With about 12 weeks left until the Philadelphia 76ers begin their 2015-16 season, I’ve decided to profile one player a week to determine his value toward the team’s long-term plans. Which players have a future with the team? Which ones can be legitimate role players, if not starters? I’ll answer these questions in the coming weeks.
I’ve decided to start with arguably the most intriguing player on the Sixers’ roster. Why most intriguing? At times he plays like he’s one of the best players on the court, but he does have his moments that make you wonder if he should be on an NBA roster.
The 76ers acquired Wroten a couple of years ago in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, in which the Sixers gave up a future second-round pick and a trade exception. Wroten has since made the trade appear as an obvious win for the 76ers, excelling as their sixth man. He was playing his best basketball before partially tearing his right ACL in January, averaging a career-high 16.9 points per game. Granted, his increased production was partially due to starting at point guard for the injured Michael Carter-Williams, as he started half the 30 games in which he played.
Wroten’s energy is his biggest attribute, but it’s also his biggest weakness. He attacks the rim relentlessly, and he rarely takes a shot that’s not either a 3-pointer or within a few feet of the rim. That exact style of play is theoretically what players should be doing to achieve the most efficiency. Unfortunately for Wroten, he’s often too out of control to finish his drives, and his lack of ball security results in live-ball turnovers that are susceptible to easy baskets for the opposition. He only shot 26 percent from 3-point range last season (a career high), so defenses sag off him to make it more difficult to penetrate.
He can also impact in the game in other ways, such as his passing, which resulted in over five assists per game last season. He has shown the ability to throw flashy passes to teammates who didn’t even realize were open, but for every one of those, he’d hurl a pass three rows into the stands. Defensively, he averaged a career-high 1.6 steals per game last season.
At only 22 years old, an argument can be made that Wroten has time to improve to the point where he can become a poor man’s James Harden, especially when you consider his all-around game and constant penetration (and being left-handed). His outside shot has improved since joining the Sixers, but he still has yet to harness his energy in order to limit his wild shots and turnovers. His PER last season was 14.96, which means he was an average player in terms of his overall production.
Wroten is expected to return in time for the season when it begins just over nine months after he had surgery to repair his ACL, and he’s expected to be the team’s starting point guard. If the team wants to reach its long-term goals, though, his starting point-guard role should be temporary. Unless he drastically improves his game, Wroten is much more effective coming off the bench, where he’d play against the opponents’ reserves – more toward his level of competition. He’s a good combo guard to have off the bench who can provide an energy boost with an occasional scoring spree. Perhaps not sixth-man material, but he definitely deserves to be in the rotation.