Wroten's wild ride

Posted: November 12, 2013

THERE WILL probably be few luxuries for coach Brett Brown this season when it comes to his young, rebuilding team. For his inexperienced players, however, they could reap many benefits.

On many teams, the likes of Tony Wroten, Darius Morris, Daniel Orton, James Anderson, Brandon Davies and Hollis Thompson would be buried deep on the bench. But here, where expectations for this season are lower than Shaquille O'Neal's free-throw shooting percentage, these players will be getting many minutes to not only showcase and improve their talents for the Sixers organization but also for others around the league.

Perhaps no one so far has seized the opportunity as much as Wroten, who has impressed with his ever-present energy, but has caused a little bit of hair-pulling with his sometimes wild play.

In Friday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wroten posted a career-high of 18 points while keeping everyone on the floor alert with his non-stop, 200-miles-an-hour motor. Originally seen by Brown as a two-guard, the coach is now finding more time for Wroten as the backup to rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

"That's part of the whole process of trying to find guys and put them where they should be," Brown said. "Tony has been really good at being the backup one, too, and coming out and running the team. Tony's energy, being able to [play strong defense] and then run the team and maybe able to make some shots, all of that is a bonus, but it stemmed, I think, from him having the ball.

"He plays with reckless abandon. He is an attack-first guard. His challenge is going to be if he can take that fantastic mentality and can you polish it up where there's a level of intellectual poise? He's young, he's really young. That's the challenge of coaching Tony Wroten. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and he's emotional. He could throw the greatest pass you'll ever see in your life or he could hit somebody in their shoe. That's the challenge of coaching Tony. I can see daylight and I feel like my job is to put these guys in places where I can help them. I think Tony is responding to backing up Michael Carter-Williams."

While it's up to Brown to find the best spots for his young players, it's up to the players to give him the confidence to keep going to them. Wroten knows it and cherishes the opportunity.

"I just bring the energy from within," said Wroten, averaging 10.4 points in 21 minutes off the bench in the first seven games. "They're asking me to come off the bench with a lot of energy, so that's what I bring. I do take risks and I admit that is something that I need to work on, but at the end of the day I'm just going to try and make plays for the team. It's a great feeling, just all of the hard work paying off. Just being able to get the opportunity here and being able to play a lot is truly a blessing."

His new teammates are taking notice of the 20-year-old, second-year guard who played just 35 games for the Memphis Grizzlies last year.

"I think there's no question with his talent and his athleticism, he brings a definite change of pace at that position off the bench, a spark on both ends of the floor," said Spencer Hawes. "As is the case with a lot of young players you have to learn to control that, we all went through that. Game by game you're seeing that progression with him being able to do that. You want to keep that attitude, that pit-bull kind of mentality and then make the tweaks elsewhere."

Closing the Bynum book

It seemed pretty obvious on Friday watching Andrew Bynum slug through 18 minutes of play that the end of his career is pretty near. The day before, after his Cleveland Cavaliers practiced at Temple, Bynum talked of being a shell of himself and the sharp pain that he still gets in his knees. He didn't play in Cleveland's double-overtime win on Saturday, not able to go in back-to-back games.

The harsh greeting he got from Sixers fans on Friday was totally expected, and enjoyable, as even Bynum admitted. But it is a little hard to see a 25-year-old felled by injuries that will probably cost him his career many years too soon.

Each time Bynum was boxed out on Friday, he came to a complete stop, either unable to push back with his legs or fearful of contact to his body below the waist. He has become just a pick-setter and passer on the offensive end and a liability on the defensive end. And that may be the way he ends his career - in the not-too-distant future.

Six shots

This will be a special week for new head coach Brett Brown and first-year general manager Sam Hinkie. Tonight the Sixers host the San Antonio Spurs, Brown's employer for 11 years under Gregg Popovich, and Wednesday the Sixers host the Houston Rockets, where Hinkie was employed for 8 years before coming here . . . The Sixers will embark on their first multi-city road trip of the season later this week when they play at Atlanta on Friday, New Orleans on Saturday and Dallas next Monday.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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