Tony Wroten to Return Tomorrow, Kendall Marshall Practicing
Earlier this afternoon, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they waived guard Phil Pressey.
The move was done to make room for Tony Wroten‘s return, which Sixers head coach Brett Brown confirmed would be tomorrow afternoon against the Denver Nuggets.
Wroten, who has been working his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he had surgery to repair last February, is expected to play approximately 12-14 minutes off the bench tomorrow night, Brown says. They’re aiming to play him in short, 3-4 minute stints.
What does Brown expect Wroten to add?
“Kamikaze energy. Downhill aggression,” Brown said, referring to Wroten’s ability to attack the paint. “[Opposing] bigs have to make a decision at the rim, ‘I can’t just let him have a dunk or a layup,’ so that drop off pass [opens up].
“There are problems at times with that because he hasn’t played for so long that you’re going expect some turnovers,” Brown continued. “But I’ll trade all that to have him back and to have his, in our world, seniority. Our version of a veteran.”
Wroten, who averaged 16.9 points and 5.2 assists per game last year, both career highs, says he wants to do two things: help the team win, and show he’s the point guard of the future.
“I feel like I am the point guard for this team,” Wroten said. “We’re young, and I feel like I’m the guy for the job, for both the present and the future.”
The injury Wroten suffered last winter was the second time he’s torn his right ACL, the first coming while playing football during his junior season in high school. According to Wroten, he feels much better returning the second time around.
“Coming back this year it’s just a total difference,” Wroten said. “It’s like night and day.
“When I tore my ACL last year I went to see Dr Andrews, he said he was surprised I was able to play this long on the knee,” Wroten continued. “Coming back this year it’s just a total difference. [I’m] more explosive. The last injury I had in high school, it took a minute for me to get all the way back to being me and back to normal. Now I just feel like a totally new person.”
The time off, Wroten said, gave him a new perspective on the game.
“I was able to be a coach for a minute and just see the game from a different point of view,” Wroten continued. “It was like a blessing in disguise.”
The Sixers have spent a lot of time in late-clock situations, what Brett Brown likes to call “butter” because the shot clock is melting away. In fact, the Sixers attempt 9.5% of their shots with less than 4 seconds left on the shot clock, the highest percentage in the league.
“We’ve never been in it as much as we have been this year,” Brown said a few weeks ago at practice. “Playmakers arrest that problem.”
Hopefully, Wroten’s ability to create off the dribble can alleviate some of the Sixers problems in that regard.
Kendall Marshall Plays 5-on-5 In Practice
The Sixers could get even more point guard help soon, as Kendall Marshall, who also underwent surgery to repair a tear in his right anterior cruciate ligament, was a full participant at practice today for the first time this season, although his 5-on-5 play was limited to short, 6 minute segments.
“Today was the first time going through a full practice with the Sixers,” Marshall said at the conclusion of practice. “I was a little tired, but other than that it felt good.”
Marshall, by his estimation, is likely 1-2 weeks away from returning to game action.
“It still kind of feels weird just to be out there. Still have to get that rhythm back,” Marshall said, although he stated it’s coming back to him. “Some of the reads that I’m used to making I’m seeing them a lot quicker than I did maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago.”
The timing of their return, and the symmetry in their journey, wasn’t lost on Marshall, who was not always fond of his new teammate.
“Since we were both drafted 4 years ago now there’s always kind of been this tension between us,” Marshall said when talking about Wroten. “I know, personally, I didn’t really care for him too much. I didn’t know him, but that’s just how it goes. I don’t like anybody that plays the same position as me.
“But when you hang out with somebody, you become teammates, you’re rehabbing together, and you start to talk basketball, you learn about the guy. That naturally brings you closer, and I think it will help us on the court.”
Logjam At the Point?
It seems almost crazy to suggest, but with both Wroten and Marshall returning in the next week or two, time at the point guard position will come scarce.
“There’s only so many minutes. It’s great. It’s a competitive situation. You reward those that earn it,” Brown said about how he’ll distribute minutes at the point. “The point guard situation is probably going to push Isaiah [Canaan] more to a 2 [shooting guard].”
Joel Embiid Looking Good
While interviews were going on, Joel Embiid, with his walking boot on, was going through shooting drills with a coach.
At the end of his interview, Sixers head coach Brett Brown pointed at Embiid and said “He’s every bit of 7’2″ now,” while pointing out his physique, which looks much improved over where it was at this point of his rehabilitation last year.