The Forgotten Man: Remembering Tony Wroten


Tony Wroten is a forgotten man on this Sixers roster. The darling of the first half of the Sixers season turned into a ghost after tearing his ACL in late January. While most have been trying to figure out the Sixers point guard position next season, they forget that Wroten will be there.

Whether it be D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, there will still be Tony Wroten crashing into the lane like a man running from a pitbull.

In his 30 games played this season, he showed both good and bad. He was dubbed by some the “best worst basketball player there is,” if that makes any sense. Wroten averaged 16.9 points and 5.2 assists, but was a turnover machine (3.8 per game). If he played the entire season, he would have been top five in total turnovers, but still sits in the top-100 with less than half a season played. Without any qualifications for games played, Wroten also sits tied for fifth in the NBA in turnovers per game with John Wall and Michael Carter-Williams.

Analytics aren’t kind to Wroten. But, for Sixers fans that have watched him play, they know how special he is and how fun he can be to watch.

Take this for example:

The play above is Wroten in a nut shell. Driving recklessly to the lane and throwing a prayer up that finds twine. We loved him for it. But, for every jaw dropping play, the next five would look like this:

Or this:

But, on a team with little NBA talent, what was a guy to do? Before Robert Covington came over and started playing meaningful minutes, there weren’t the right players for Wroten on the floor. A penetrating guard like Wroten would be best suited surrounded by shooters. When Wroten was at his peak, Covington was struggling to find minutes and Hollis Thompson couldn’t hit the back board on a jumper.

Even so, when Covington and Wroten did play together, Covington shot 62 percent from three-point range on passes from Wroten. Covington benefits from penetrating guards that draw contact leaving him space to shoot on the perimeter. It’s obvious why this worked. It would have been special to see what Wroten could do when Thompson picked his shooting up and had RoCo on the floor with him.

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There can be shade thrown his way for his shooting percentages (40 percent from field, 26 percent from three), but at least he knew where to attack on the floor. I cringed every time I saw MCW take a pull-up mid range jumper. I’d think to myself, “You can’t shoot! Get to the rim, you’re 6’6!”

With Wroten, this was never the case. His shot chart is littered with shots either at the rim or from the three-point line. These are the type of shots that NBA offenses look for these days. The “pace-and-space” hype is real.

shotchart via

Obviously, things would work out a lot better for Tony Wroten if he could make his three-point attempts, but that doesn’t look promising. His shooting may never increase, but there’s still value in a guard that can get to the rim at will without having a jumper in his skill set. He’s one of the lone players in the NBA that can consistently penetrate without forcing a defender to stick with him at the three-point line.

Another area where Wroten excels is in transition. Since he loves driving to the cup (over 60 percent of Wroten’s offense came from shots less than 10 feet from the basket), that makes transition a place where he can make his money. He’s barely average as an on-ball defender, but can make plays when he gambles on lazy passes from the defense.

If D’Angelo Russell finds his way to Philadelphia, it could be possible to see a heavy rotation of Russell and Wroten in the back court. Russell would provide the spacing to open up more lanes for Wroten to drive. Put someone like Robert Covington in there with Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel and that’s not a bad lineup.

The ACL injury caused Tony Wroten’s name to disappear from the Wells Fargo Center. Ish Smith came in and impressed, but Wroten’s abilities surpass those of Smith. Also, Wroten is still under contract for another season, so his spot shouldn’t be questioned. Giving Brett Brown and his staff another summer to develop Wroten should pay off dividends when this team returns in 2015-16. At his core, Wroten is a high-usage player that could be dangerous coming off the bench for the Sixers.

Next: Report: D'Angelo Russell is the Guy the Sixers Want