I’ve now gone through all five of the Sixers’ starters at the end of the season, so now I will move to the backups. The most obvious player to evaluate first is Tony Wroten, the clear sixth man for the team this past year. As mainly a shooting guard, he averaged 13.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 3.0 APG. His shooting percentages weren’t great (especially from 3, where he shot just 21.3%), but he averaged so many points because he would shoot a lot. He averaged over 11 shots per the 24 minutes per game that he played, making him a good type of player to come off the bench. He did start a few games here and there when the Sixers were tweaking with their starting lineup, but his main role was as a sixth man.
It was just Wroten’s second season in the league, and his first where he received extensive minutes. In his first season, in which he played with the Grizzlies, he only played about 8 minutes per game and played in less than half the season. But he played in 72 games last season and made great improvements across all categories. But, while he made a lot of improvement, he still needs to improve a lot more to be a solid player in this league. At just 21 years old though, he’ll have plenty of time to continue to get better.
While sometimes it’s good to have players that shoot a lot and, in the process, score a lot of points, I think Wroten would fit better as a Manu Ginobli type sixth man in which he does a little bit of everything and plays as many minutes as a starter. He showed that he can both rebound and pass the ball, as well as get steals, averaging 1.1 steals per game. If he’s going to be shooting 11 times per game in limited minutes, he’s going to have to start shooting above 42.7%, which was his percentage last season. One way to do this is to take a lot less 3-pointers. He’s not a good shooter from beyond the arc at this point, and may never be, so eliminating that shot from his arsenal would likely help his percentages.
I’d be completely fine with him taking 11 shots a game if he becomes more efficient, and that will come with more playing time. The best to improve in this league is to get actual game experience, even if your team is losing most of the games. If he can work on his shot in the offseason, he’ll become a lot more valuable to the team. In addition, he needs to turn the ball over less. He gets a lot of criticism for the way he takes care of the ball, and he often has games where he turns the ball over like a bad point guard. He’s not going to be running the show out there when he’s in, so averaging close to a turnover every 8 minutes is a bit high. And bad shots are basically turnovers too, meaning he really averages more than that. If he can improve that too, his whole game will improve.
While I seemed to be criticizing him a lot here, it’s because I see the potential in him and think he can be a great role player for them going down the road. He’s very young and already has a lot of experience in a Sixer uniform, which will help him greatly for next season. And he’s already locked in for $1.2 million next year, so there’s no point in letting him go.
Verdict: keep him as the sixth man