Wroten's versatility impressing at Sixers camp

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Wroten's versatility impressing at Sixers camp

At Garfield High in Seattle, Wash., the alumni rolls are very impressive. Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix were students at the school at the same time, making Garfield the breeding ground for groundbreaking hipness.

Quincy Jones also went to Garfield along with Irvine Robbins of Baskin & Robbins fame. From the NBA, All-Star Brandon Roy nearly jumped to the pros straight out of Garfield before settling in for four years at the University of Washington. That’s nearly the same path followed by Tony Wroten.

The difference is Wroten spent just one year at the University of Washington -- just like Sixers teammate Spencer Hawes -- but that’s not where the similarities end.

Roy was a big guard who could handle the point, defend against bigger players and could get to the basket seemingly at will. Wroten, at 6-foot-5, is also a big guard who reminds coach Brett Brown a little of Tyreke Evans, the Chester, Pa. native playing for New Orleans. It was during Monday’s scrimmage during the Sixers’ training camp at Saint Joseph’s University where Wroten let the fawning comparisons commence with some high-energy and spirited play.

“Tony was the star of the day,” Brown said after the scrimmage.

Matched up against rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams, Wroten was a blur in the open floor. He got to the rim easily in transition where he was able to make some impressive passes to teammates for dunks or finish it off himself.

On a young team with a slight, rookie point guard, chances are Brown will call on Wroten a lot come game time, not so much because of his energy and ability to play the point, but also because of his versatility.

“I think he’s just a big wing,” Brown said. “He passes so well, I suppose like a Tyreke Evans type. He's just a big player. He can play some two and some one and you instinctively think he can play the one because he sees the court so well. And I love that he can pick up full court and harass other point guards.”

Brown intends on having the Sixers play an up-tempo, running offense, which suits Wroten fine. Actually, after appearing in just 35 games for an average of 7.8 minutes per game for the Memphis Grizzlies last year, Wroten won’t have to blend in and wait for his shot behind veteran players.

Instead, it seems as if Wroten will be an integral part of the Sixers whether it is as a starter or as a sixth man.

Either way is fine by Wroten.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes, whatever my role is. Whether it’s coming off the bench or if I’m starting, I’m going to try and change the game every chance I get,” Wroten said.

That could even be while playing at the three spot, which is another position Wroten says he can handle. Wroten might be a little undersized at the three, but because of his athleticism, Brown says he has a pretty versatile wing man.

“He plays with tremendous energy when he stays focused,” Brown said. “And when he stays focused and in the game, he really can do some things because he’s so physically gifted. He’s an excellent athlete.”

Wroten was all over the place on the floor during Monday’s workout session and when he hit the floor with what looked like a sore shoulder from a blindside pick, Brown whistled practice closed for the day.

When the star of the day goes down, that’s a good time to wrap it up.

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas

Position: Shooting Guard

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed — $3,807,147

Stauskas in 2016-17
In his second season with the Sixers and third in the NBA, Nik Stauskas saw himself generally improve across the board, albeit by a small amount. The Sixers as a whole had a plethora of injuries that kept nearly every player off the court for extended periods, yet Stauskas remained healthy enough to play 80 games, start 27 and play 27.4 minutes a contest. Health is certainly a skill and Stauskas has it.

As for his play on the court, Stauskas got better in essentially every category. His field goal percentage rose from 38.5 to 39.6 percent, he shot a career-high 36.8 percent from three and he improved his scoring to 9.5 points per game while also sporting career highs in rebounds, assists and blocks with only a 2.6 minute increase in minutes per game.

His consistency was pretty notable. He played at least 23 minutes in every game after Jan. 20 and was a constant in an ever-changing Sixers rotation. He had eight straight games with double figures to end February. While he began the year as the backup two-guard, Stauskas started at shooting guard by the end of the year with Gerald Henderson nursing an injury. Coach Brett Brown even had Stauskas play point guard down the stretch with injuries to Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez creating an opening. In that way, Stauskas diversified his skill set

Signature game
Stauskas' season-high 21 points came against Phoenix in mid-November, a win against a team even worse than the Sixers. Stauskas had 20 points on back-to-back games in Orlando and Oklahoma City in late March, hitting eight threes over the two games.

But what is a signature game for Stauskas without a little measure of revenge? On Jan. 30, Stauskas made four threes and scored 16 points against the Kings, providing some key baskets in a 122-119 win over his former mates.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Next season for Stauskas will be a critical one. It'll be the final season of his four-year rookie contract. While he's improved year to year, he's not quite the product one may expect out of the former eighth overall pick. At this point, a few years removed from that 2014 draft, it is unfair to continually compare him to that draft and instead focus on what he is.

Well, what is Stauskas? He's a shooting guard who can play a little bit of the point in a pinch and can hit a decent, albeit not elite, clip of threes. There's value there for sure. However, with a bevy of potential draft picks coming the Sixers' way, the guard known as Sauce Castillo could see his role downsized in 2017-18 with a rookie taking his minutes.

Even players getting healthy could take minutes away from Stauskas. He's already competing with veteran Gerald Henderson, also a free agent after 2017-18, for minutes and Bayless may be squeezed into more of a two-guard role with Ben Simmons at the point. Simmons, Bayless and T.J. McConnell likely take away the few opportunities Stauskas would have to play point guard, but he only took that on because of injury anyway.

Still, even in a roster squeeze, Stauskas brings a fair amount to the table. Brown's system needs shooters and despite a few slumps, Stauskas can drain jumpers. He's developed chemistry in the locker room and has earned enough trust and stayed healthy enough to play 27 minutes a game in the NBA. 

On Stauskas
"We're seeing a skill package that everybody talked about when he came out of college. You're seeing a lottery pick play. I'm personally happy for him because he cares sometimes too much and he's so self-conscious at times and extremely prideful and he's being rewarded for the work he has put in."

- Sixers coach Brett Brown

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

ATLANTA -- John Wall had that look in his eye at morning shootaround.

Bradley Beal knew it was going to be a big night for Washington's star point guard.

Wall scored 42 points -- a career playoff high, with 19 coming in the fourth quarter to single-handedly hold off a furious Atlanta comeback -- and the Wizards eliminated the Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday, capturing the opening-round playoff series 4-2.

"You could just tell he was locked in," Beal said. "He was ready to go. We just feed off that."

Beal wasn't too shabby either, scoring 31 points (see full recap).

Celtics complete series comeback, eliminate Bulls
CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics kept reminding each other not to let up as they closed in on a lopsided victory and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No need to worry about that.

Avery Bradley scored 23 points, and the hot-shooting Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-83 to win their first-round series 4-2 on Friday night.

The top-seeded Celtics simply torched Chicago to finish off a tougher-than-anticipated series and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Boston regrouped after dropping the first two games at home and will meet Washington in the Eastern semifinals. Game 1 is Sunday (see full recap).

Clippers beat Jazz on road to force Game 7
SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers forced a Game 7 in their first-round series with a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Clippers will host the only do-or-die game of the first round Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Golden State Warriors.

Los Angeles began to edge away in the third quarter and appeared to be in control when Austin Rivers capped a 9-2 run with a step-back 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 91-77 with 3:58 remaining.

He hit another with 1:29 left to make it 96-86, but Gordon Hayward scored seven straight to bring the Jazz within three before Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds (see full recap).