The news broke this morning that University of Washington alum Tony Wroten Jr. has been shipped off to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for a second round pick. Wroten played the 2012 season as part of the Memphis Grizzlies, who drafted him 25th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. He participated in 35 games, averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 assists in limited time. During the season he spent time with the Reno Bighorns of the D-League.
Wroten was considered a five-star recruit as a 6’4″ 195-pound point guard coming out of Garfield High School in Seattle, largely due to his athleticism, size, and skill as a passer and finisher. He committed to Coach Romar and the Huskies as part of the Class of 2011, and expectations were high for his freshman year.
He left campus and declared for the NBA Draft after a single polarizing season. He averaged an impressive 16 points per game to go along with 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Unfortunately, he also turned over the ball 3.8 times a game and managed an ugly .443/.161/.583 shooting line. While his scoring near the basket and his above average rebounding for a guard were well above what would be expected from a normal freshman, his turnovers and broken jump shot left many Washington fans frustrated. In fact, when news broke that Wroten would not return for his sophomore year, just as many fans seemed to express gratitude as expressed grief.
The Grizzlies drafted Wroten for his physical attributes and his scoring ability. It was clear Wroten would have to show improved efficiency with his passing and a vastly reworked jump shot. He failed to take major steps forward in either category, but also played so few minutes that it’s tough to bash the young guard for lack of improvement.
With the 76ers he will likely get more of an opportunity as a back up combo guard, and considering that he’s only 20 years old, there’s no reason to fully write off Wroten. But Memphis’ decision to swap a first-round selection for a second round pick certainly seems like the admission of a mistake. This much is clear: if Wroten remains the same polarizing player he was at Washington, his career may never get off the ground.