COMMENTARY | The entire Philadelphia 76ers team has exceeded expectations in the early going, including victories over the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Houston Rockets. In order to do that as a team, several individuals have to be performing better than expected.
One player that has made a rather large, unexpected impact is guard Tony Wroten.
Philadelphia did not have any depth at all this offseason after not bringing back most of last year's roster. The Sixers needed bodies at all positions and, as with any rebuilding team, were looking at young pieces to see what could be made out of them.
The 76ers acquired the 6-foot-6-inch guard from the Memphis Grizzlies in August in exchange for a 2014 second-round NBA draft pick and a trade exception.
With first-round rookie Michael Carter-Williams and former No. 2 pick Evan Turner expected to start at the guard positions, Wroten was expected to compete for a guard position in training camp. His ability to play both guard spots made him a nice option for the Sixers to have come off the bench.
Last year, Wroten played in only 35 games for Memphis, averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 assists in 7.8 minutes per game.
He's been given an expanded role in Philadelphia and has taken advantage of it. This season, Wroten has 11.6 points per game, 3.0 assists per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, all in 23.3 minutes per game. He's improved his shooting percentage and has scored in double-figures in seven of the first nine games of the season.
Wroten has been instrumental coming off the bench. He's provided scoring punch to a reserve unit where every other player is averaging less than 6.0 points per game.
Against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, November 13, Wroten proved that he's more than comfortable starting as well. In the team's 123-117 overtime victory over Houston, Wroten was named a starter at the last minute when Michael Carter-Williams couldn't go because of a foot injury.
Wroten posted a triple-double, scoring 18 points, dishing out 11 assists, and grabbing 10 rebounds. Elias Sports Bureau said that it was the first time since starts were recorded that a player has had a triple-double in his first career start.
It's early in the season, but Wroten is making his presence known. If he keeps up his strong play, he should be a candidate for the NBA's Sixth Man Award and possibly the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
Award nominations or not, Philadelphia has already gotten more than expected from Wroten. Looking for a diamond in the rough in August, the Sixers may have found just that in Tony Wroten.
Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.
- Sports & Recreation
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Tony Wroten
- Houston Rockets