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The Sixers Got Point Guard Tony Wroten for Nothing And That's a Cool Thing

The Sixers Got Point Guard Tony Wroten for Nothing And That's a Cool Thing

With Michael Carter-Williams the first and only entry on the Sixers' current depth chart at point guard--seriously, check it out--it was highly probable that the Sixers were gonna pick up another guy to play the one before off-season's end. You figured it would probably be an experienced journeyman type, like an Earl Watson or Jamaal Tinsley, someone who can run the offense competently while MCW rests and pick up a spare start or two if necessary, and more importantly, teach him some of the finer points of the position and help them out with general veteran know-how.
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Nope. The Sixers got their man for the backup point today, and it's a raw, talented, athletic young guy who can't shoot. (Yes, just like our starter.) Sam Hinkie traded a future second-rounder today--said to be top 50 protected, which essentially means it'll never materialize--for Memphis Grizzlies benchwarmer Tony Wroten, a second-year player out of Washington, a player I've long coveted for reasons I can't possibly justify numerically.

Wroten's stats last year, after being taken by Memphis in the first round with the 25th pick, were thoroughly unimpressive: 2.6 points and 1.2 assists a game on 39% shooting in 272 total minutes. But the dude's only gonna be 20 years old at the start of the season--he was born a week after the first Tool album came out, come on--and he's got length and athleticism to spare, as a 6'6", 205 pound point guard as well as impressive court vision, albeit paired with some pretty poor decision-making. Coming into the NBA, he drew some comparisons to Rajon Rondo, except he's a lot bigger (and for the moment at least, a much less effective playmaker). Here's some of the spare footage out there of Tony doing work in the NBA:



If the Sixers are looking to build around youth, size and athleticism, like they appear to have been with their two first-round picks in last year's draft, Wroten seems to fit right into that, and his upside remains sizable for a guy with basically no NBA track record. And for what it's worth, Wroten was far more productive in his 11-game stint with the Grizz' D-League affiliate, averaging about 17 and four a game in just 27 minutes per contest. Here's some footage of him last year with the Reno Big Horns.

So how were we able to get Wroten so cheap? Well, the Grizzlies had become a little disenchanted with Tony's play over the course of last season, and through to this year's Summer League, where he had a fairly poor showing in Vegas. As a contending team who signed two other backup point guards this off-season (Nick Calathes and Josh Akogon) with more experience than Wroten, it makes sense that it would be hard for Wroten to get the PT necessary to grow. Still, the fact that they gave him up essentially for nothing but cap space--as the Rockets did when they jettisoned Royce White to us--has to give you at least a little bit of pause, make you think that maybe there's a reason they had such little belief in this guy.

Still, as just about everyone will be quick to point out regarding this move (and every other Sixers move from this off-season), there's really no risk to it at all. If Wroten flops with the Sixers and doesn't seem like he's going to get any better, then it's no skin off our backs, as we didn't give up anything to get him, and we aren't really trying to win games right now anyway. In the meantime, Sixers geeks like myself will get another shiny new toy whose progress we can obsess over to distract us from all the 110-82 blowouts the team finds itself in. Once again, everybody wins.

It will be interesting to see how the Sixers do decide to use Wroten, in any event--if they keep him in the backup point guard role to trade off with MCW, or if Brett Brown actually dares attempt to play Wroten and Carter-Williams in the same back court, which--especially assuming Evan Turner joins along side at the three--might result in the Sixers becoming the most miserable-shooting team in NBA history, a team without a single player you have to guard outside of 12 feet. (Except maybe Spencer Hawes.) He'll get plenty of time and opportunity to find his role on this crappy young team, however, so good for Tony.

Life is full of possibilities. What a great off-season.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

Evaluating the Eagles' Darren Sproles replacement options

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Evaluating the Eagles' Darren Sproles replacement options

It was possible to write off Darren Sproles as a role player of sorts for the Eagles. An integral part of the offense, yes, though not an every-down back or even a starter necessarily. A unique and dangerous weapon – just not somebody who was going to touch the ball 20 or more times most weeks.

Today is not the day to undersell Sproles’ meaning to this team. The 12-year veteran finished with a career-high 146 touches on offense last season. He led all Eagles running backs in snaps by far in 2016, and as recently as Week 2, was on the field for 50 of 72 plays. Oh, Sproles is the primary punt returner, too, and a three-time Pro Bowl selection at that.

Sproles’ skill set is pretty much impossible to replicate. What the Eagles must now hope is Sproles’ production isn’t impossible to replace after his injuries turned out to be season-ending.

Here’s how it can be done in theory. In practice, well… that’s going to have to be another story.

 

Wendell Smallwood

The player who has the most to gain from this is Smallwood, by virtue of being the most accomplished receiver out of the backfield currently on the 53-man roster. Of course, LeGarrette Blount has spread 48 receptions over an eight-year NFL career, while rookie Corey Clement is still working his way into the rotation, so that isn’t saying much.

While he’s certainly no Sproles, Smallwood does have decent hands. He caught 53 passes for 476 yards in his final two seasons at West Virginia, and finished with 6 receptions for 55 yards while playing limited snaps for the Eagles in 2016. Smallwood also looks like the most quick-twitch, slippery runner of the trio, which perhaps makes him the best option to split out wide or line up in the slot – should the Eagles choose to continue using those looks.

Smallwood is the clear frontrunner to serve as the primary third-down back, though somewhat by default. He has just 105 touches as a pro, and his pass protection remains a concern. Then again, somebody has to do the job, preferably a back who could conceivably catch a pass or two, and for Week 4 in Los Angeles at least, it appears that’s going to be Smallwood.

 

Corey Clement

We can’t discount Clement entirely. We know for a fact that Blount isn’t going to see much third-down work, but Eagles coach Doug Pederson specifically mentioned Clement as an option. Based on what we saw in the preseason, it might not be too farfetched, either.

An undrafted free agent from Wisconsin, Clement came in with a reputation as a bruising, between-the-tackles runner. However, he’s shown quite a bit more burst and quickness than maybe was anticipated, while also putting in steady work in the passing game. Clement finished the preseason with 7 receptions for 46 yards, plus looked solid in protection throughout.

Clement still isn’t as fast or elusive as Smallwood, so don’t expect to see him lining up at receiver or anything like that. Clement isn’t a terrible option in passing situations, as at the very least he can keep the quarterback clean, in addition to running the basic routes in the tree to help move the sticks.

 

Byron Marshall

Marshall is currently on the Eagles practice squad, with the roster still sitting at 52 players, he certainly might be in line for a promotion. Given his skill set, that also might make a lot more sense than trying to shoehorn Smallwood or Clement into a role they don’t necessarily fit.

Pederson has said on multiple occasions that Marshall is cross-training at running back and receiver. That sounds an awful lot like what Sproles does for the Eagles, doesn’t it? Marshall also played both positions at Oregon, posting a 1,000-yard season on the ground as a sophomore, and a 1,000-yard season through the air as a junior.

But that was college. There’s really no context for doing it in the NFL. Undrafted in 2016, Marshall was active for three games last season, recording 19 carries for 64 yards and 3 receptions for 10 yards. It’s not a large enough sample size to draw any definitive conclusions, although the fact that he’s still on the practice squad suggests he’s not the answer.

There is no shortage of players who are in the mold of Sproles. There are a very select view for whom it translates on the field. Marshall is intriguing and may warrant a look. At the same time, he’s a bit of a long shot to fill the void in the Eagles offense.

 

Nelson Agholor

There’s a lot of talk about how the Eagles will go about plugging the hole in the Eagles offense, but what about on special teams? Torrey Smith was something of a surprise to take over Sproles’ punt return duties on Sunday. After all, Smith had never previously returned a punt in his seven-year NFL career, nor at Maryland for that matter.

Perhaps Agholor would be a better option, seeing as he actually has some experience in the role. He was pretty good at it, too, you might recall. Agholor returned 37 punts for a 14.6 average and 4 touchdowns in two seasons for the Trojans. Why not give him a shot?

The Eagles are currently in the process of trying to rebuild Agholor’s confidence, so sticking him back there on an island might sound a bit tenuous. At the same time, what would be a better ego boost then expanding his role with the team? They should really be working Agholor in as the primary return man at practice, because he’s currently the best they’ve got.

 

Trade

How desperate are the Eagles to make a deep playoff run this season? Because if they are serious about making a big push, there are some Sproles clones and cheap imitations that are likely available to be had in a trade.

The Patriots could no doubt afford to part with Dion Lewis. The Broncos backfield is getting crowded, so Jamaal Charles could be available. Do the Jets really have any use for Bilal Powell? These are just a few examples, but there is always somebody out there.

It doesn’t necessarily behoove the Eagles to deal draft picks at this point, because let’s face it, are any of those guys going to truly replace Sproles? Probably not, but it is technically an option, and would not be surprising at all to learn the front office has explored those paths.

Ultimately, the Eagles are probably better of trying to replace Sproles in the aggregate with the remaining pieces that are remaining on the roster.