A rookie no more
I learned of the Tony Wroten Jr. name during the summer of his senior year at Garfield High through his coach who had come up to Vancouver for an annual summer tournament.
Google and YouTube got me, and made me, familiar with a player who looked to be in the mold of another Seattle native, Jamal Crawford.
The Seattle prodigy was the next in line to carry the Emerald City torch as a hotbed for west coast hoops. While there were plenty of individual highlights, the failure that was the 2011-12 post season was basically a dogs breakfast for the Pac 12 team.
A rough start
Selected with the 25th overall pick in the 2012 draft, following a one and done career at UW, Wroten was basically torn apart by all the “experts” and fans about his lack of fundamentals and readiness to play in the NBA.
Even your’s truly questioned the decision to leave college after his freshman season, one which featured a disappointing NIT performance.
The fact was, Wroten wasn’t ready.
During his one and only season with the Memphis Grizzlies, Wroten struggled to find comfort with the veteran club, spending a number of nights riding the pine or travelling with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League.
In the 35 games that Wroten did see floor time, it was minimal, to the point that establishing any sort of flow was next to impossible. Averaging only 7.8 minutes a game and 2.6 points per game, questions began to surface as to if Seattle’s “next” would even be in the league in 2013-14.
On to the next
While draft night 2012 was a dream come true for Wroten and his family, the summer of 2013 has given the 6’5″ combo guard a second opportunity to make a first impression.
Traded to the City of Brotherly Love for a second round draft pick, Wroten shares the young Philadelphia 76ers back court duties with Michael Carter Williams and Evan Turner.
Leading the second unit for the surprise team early this season, Wroten has played in all of the Sixers six games of the season, averaging just over twenty minutes of burn, while contributing 11.5ppg and 4 rebounds.
Draining double digits in points in all but one game to date (only two points vs. Washington), Wroten posted a career high 18 points in 26 minutes on Friday evening against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Showing a sign of loyalty to both Wroten and what could be an important cog of their young future, the Sixers management exercised their third year team option, giving the Seattle guard a guaranteed home next season.
Although odds are slim that the NBA would honor Wroten with the Most Improved Player award, as bigger names such as Jonas Valanciunas, Derrick Favors, Andre Drummond and Eric Bledsoe have the early season edge, the reality is that when you look at the production (or lack of it) that came from his rookie season to what he is posting now, Wroten should justifiably be included in the conversation.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE POSTS IN OUR COFFEE SHOP BLOG! (For NW Sports Fans!)