Tag: Philadelphia 76ers

Tony Wroten, Spencer Hawes

Report: Clippers interested in 76ers guard Tony Wroten


Anthony Davis is not the youngest player leading his team in scoring this season.

That honor goes to Tony Wroten, more than a month Davis’ junior. The 76ers guard is averaging 17.4 points and 5.3 assists per game at age 21, impressive marks to be sure.

But how valuable is Wroten? Has he truly broken out, or is he just putting up numbers on a tanking team with few other options? After all, Evan Turner was scoring at a similar clip in Philadelphia last season, and he totally fell off after the Pacers traded for him.

For what it’s worth, the Clippers reportedly see something in Wroten.

Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:

The Clippers and 76ers completed a trade earlier today for Jared Cunningham, a mostly financial deal that allowed the Clippers to clear a little room below the hard cap. Wroten wasn’t involved, but that trade at least indicates Doc Rivers and Sam Hinkie can work together.

The Clippers have adequate backup guards in Jamal Crawford and Jordan Farmar, so Wroten would be more of a luxury. It’s tough to see the Clippers, especially with their hard cap, making a deal work. But Rivers has shown a propensity for valuing a deeper bench over future flexibility, so there’s a chance to he takes the necessary steps.

Wroten is under contract for next season, and he’ll be a restricted free agent after that. There’s no urgency for the 76ers to trade him, unless they believe he’s a poor long-term fit with Michael Carter-Williams and this is the time to sell high. Wroten at least won’t interfere with Philadelphia tanking for a high pick this year.

I doubt Wroten winds up in Los Angeles, but the Clippers’ interest is intriguing – whether Rivers just likes Wroten or is searching for a backcourt upgrade.

After Sixers beat Cavaliers, Joel Embiid has fun at LeBron’s expense on Twitter

2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

He hasn’t even played a game yet and already Joel Embiid is a must follow on twitter. Remember last summer when he (jokingly) tried to recruit LeBron James to Philly?

Then Sunday night the Sixers beat a depleted Cavaliers team, one without LeBron James or Kyrie Irving. After the win Embiid tweeted this:

You’ve got to love Embiid. It will be even better when he starts playing in actual games, which likely will not be until next season. Because the Sixers. But at least it’s a potential star with some personality, the league could use that.

Tony Wroten hits the game-winner to give Sixers win over Cavaliers

Philadelphia 76ers v Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers were without LeBron James and Kyrie Irving heading into their matchup with the Sixers, which was already going to make things difficult for a team struggling to find its identity in the early part of the season.

But once Dion Waiters was pulled from the starting lineup due to his inclusion in a three-team trade that sent him to the Thunder, the task became too tall to accomplish.

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The Sixers overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to get their first home win of the season, thanks to this Tony Wroten drive and finish that gave Philly the lead for good.

76ers see Nerlens Noel as a center, which creates a Joel Embiid-sized problem

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day

For all the talk about the 76ers tanking to get high draft picks, they have just three of the 120 top-10 picks still in the NBA:

  • Joel Embiid (No. 3 in 2014)
  • Jason Richardson (No. 5 in 2001)
  • Nerlens Noel (No. 6 in 2013)

Richardson hasn’t played in years, and he’s clearly not in the 76ers’ long-term plans. So, you’d think they’d want to get the most from Embiid and Noel.

The 6-foot-11, 228-pound Noel is in his rookie year after missing all of last season due to injury while the 7-foot, 250-pound Embiid sits out his first professional season with his own injury. It’ll be a while before we see how they fit together, but we can begin to analyze. Embiid definitely projects as a center, and Noel has swung between both big-man positions.

Can they eventually share a lineup?

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:

Coach Brett Brown was asked whether Noel is a better fit at power forward or center and said, “I think right now it’s a five” and that “He’s gone from being a four man playing alongside Henry Sims to a five man, which is going to be a challenge for us when Joel gets healthy next year.”

At another moment, it’s “Look at what a lot of teams do with their four men. They’re away from the basket. Most of the fours nowadays can almost shoot threes. If that’s your world, naturally you’re pulled away from the basket. That was Nerlens’ problem when we played him at four. He’s so used to just running to the rim, he’d lose Dirk (Nowitzki), he’d lose perimeter people. It wasn’t natural for him. Maybe he can guard a five player (better). I don’t know. I think it’s all a work in progress. But he really is a presence at the rim.”

And what of the eventual position conflict with Embiid, since there isn’t much appeal in taking his defense away from the rim?

“We’ll deal with it,” Brown said. “I think it’s a good problem to have and it’s not one that we’re shying away from. We still do all of our deliberate practice work with Nerlens from 18 feet. We still work on his form. Nothing really changes. It’s just with what we have right now, he’s been slid over to a five spot. We’re happy with his progress. I think it’s just something that we’ll figure out as time unfolds.”

Noel needs to add either bulk to play center or a jumper and awareness to defend on the perimeter to play power forward. I suspect bulk will come much easier for the 20-year-old.

Sixers fans who are Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia subscribers can watch the Sixers take on the Suns Friday night in a live stream by following this link.

At best, it’ll be a while before Noel or Embiid has the skill to complement the other as a power forward. At worst, it’ll never happen, and that possibility leaves Philadelphia in a bind.

The 76ers can experiment with the talented and tall duo once Embiid gets healthy next season, and if they don’t work together, that could help Philadelphia tank for another high pick. And if bigs click better than expected, great, the 76ers would be pretty good.

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Complicating matters further, four of the top five prospects for the 2015 draft are big men, according to both ESPN and DraftExpress. A frontcourt with two ill-fitting pieces could add another if Philadelphia drafts the most valuable player available.

I suspect the 76ers are in the talent-acquisition phase of their rebuild. Add quality players and then later sort out how they fit, trading those who don’t. So, having both Embiid and Noel is no problem right now.

But if Noel’s best position is center, that speaks to how long the 76ers will delay their ascension up the standings – and what they must do to get there.

PBT’s Top 10 Stories of 2014, No. 2: Tanking

Hollis Thompson, Tony Wroten, Michael Carter-Williams, Henry Sims

I do a fair amount of sports talk radio interviews across the nation, and through most of 2014, no matter what corner of the nation the station was located in, two topics almost inevitably came up. One was LeBron James and the drama that surrounded him in both Miami and Cleveland.

The other was tanking.

It has become part of the national conversation about the NBA — and the part that is an embarrassment to the league. The perception that a franchise would intentionally try to lose as many games as it could — even if the strategy made sense long term — was offensive to the American sports psyche. As the NBA moved through a fantastic playoffs in 2014 tanking was an ongoing parallel conversation. It was a PR nightmare for the league. It got to the point that the owners almost voted this summer to radically change the NBA Draft Lottery system to thwart the most egregious tanking. However, the owners backed away from that ledge at the last minute.

Let me be clear: No coach nor any player intentionally tried to lose a game. There is no evidence of this. Nobody is throwing games in a 1919 Black Sox sense.

Rather some organizations are intentionally putting a product on the court that is not going to win many games. There is logic to the plan. First, keep your draft picks and stockpile others in trades as you send out your veteran players. Next, be bad so your draft pick is as high as possible (the luck of the lottery will determine just how high). Play those young draft picks and inevitably be bad again — they learn on the job and you get more draft picks. Eventually you have a nice core of young talent for the future.

It sounds good on paper, you can sell that. But it’s ugly to watch in person.

Let’s be honest here — we’re primarily talking about the Philadelphia 76ers. Other teams have gone this route, but not like the Sixers.

Sixers GM Sam Hinkie has become the poster child of tanking. Back in June 2013 Hinkie traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for a draft pick, which they used on the inured Nerlens Noel, who didn’t play a game in the 2013-14 season. Hinkie traded Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes for guys that were not going to help then win games, plus some picks. This past draft the Sixers took Joel Embiid, a promising center but one not expected to play this season. Meaning the Sixers would be bad in the 2014-15 season — and they have been, they are 4-26 and again on their way to a top pick.

There are other teams, both in the past and currently, that have tried to be bad to get good. But nobody has tried to be this bad and been this naked about there intentions.

If you put a bad product out on the court people are going to complain.

It should be noted there was far more of an outcry outside Philadelphia than in it. Sure, there are some unhappy season ticket holders, but that’s not the norm. We talked with Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com for the PBT Podcast and she said that the first year fans were fully on board with the plan. Now the fans that are showing up to the arena are supportive of the players, but there is a growing exhaustion in the city with this much losing. They get what is going on, but the hope with this team seems very far off.

To be fair, in 2018 we’ll be saying Hinkie was a genius or a fool with this strategy, but it’s hard to know how it will pan out before then.

The question is how will the tanking perception and talk alter the NBA landscape going forward. There is always going to be a little of this — you need star players to really win in the NBA and the only way for middle to small markets to really land those elite players is through the draft. If they can be bad and increase their odds, they will. The Bucks did this in 2013-14 — they entered the season thinking they could be a playoff team, but when things went sideways they embraced being bad and got Jabari Parker for it. But this season the improving Bucks are a playoff team.

The Sixers are an ongoing conversation. And the question is in response will the owners change the lottery system to discourage that level of tanking in the future? And would that even work?