RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Tony Wroten, Jr.

Posted by AMurawa on June 4th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Tony Wroten, Jr.

School: Washington

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 205 lbs.

NBA Position: Combo Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Tony Wroten, Jr. Has Plenty of NBA-Caliber Traits, But Needs To Patch Some Glaring Holes

Overview: Tony Wroten heads into the NBA Draft as one of the most divisive figures in recent memory; if you ask two different people their opinion on him, you’re likely to get two (or more) different takes. For instance, in his lone season in Seattle, there were plenty of people who considered him the best player in the conference and a strong contender for conference player of the year, while there were others (me included) for whom Wroten wasn’t even on the radar for second-team all-conference. There is little doubt that he has all the physical tools necessary to become an excellent NBA player, but to this point in time, for every eye-popping positive that Wroten brings to his team, there is one serious negative to go alongside it. He’s got a great first step and a willingness to get into the lane and try to make plays, often drawing fouls along the way, but once he gets to the line he’s flat out a bad free throw shooter. He’s got brilliant court vision and is able to make spectacular passes to set up teammates for easy hoops, but far too often makes the difficult play rather than the easy one, resulting in a nearly 1:1 assist to turnover ratio. He possesses quick hands and good defensive instincts but gambles far too much leaving himself out of position and his team at a disadvantage. His entire “career” at Washington was summed up in the Huskies’ final Pac-12 Tournament game, where Wroten was spectacular in the second half, scoring 17 of a career-high 29 points, only to miss four straight free throws in the final 18 seconds to effectively end the Huskies’ NCAA Tournament hopes. As of right now, that’s what you get with Wroten; you’ve got to take the good with the bad. But, he’s got the talent to clean up his numerous shortcomings and become an impact player at the next level; it’s a matter of seeing who will roll the dice in the hopes that improvement comes.

Will Translate to the NBA: Wroten’s got a ton of qualities that NBA front office personnel will love. He’s got excellent size for a guard, his athleticism is definitely NBA-caliber and he’s got an aggressive offensive game that, with seasoning, could turn into a force at the next level. Wroten’s ability off the bounce and shot-making prowess in the lane coupled with his clear love of dropping a beautiful dime to his teammate could make him a force in the pick and roll game, provided his turnovers decrease.

Needs Work: Aside from merely needing to cut down the turnovers, Wroten’s got several huge areas of his game that need to be remade. First and foremost, the lefty needs to develop his right hand. It was no secret in the Pac-12 this year that when Wroten was going, he was going left, and when he was finishing, he was finishing with his left as well, even when the right hand would have made completing the play easier. That can come with time, but the next big hole in Wroten’s game is his shot, as he was awful from the free throw line (58.3%, although he does get some credit for getting to the line a lot) and even worse from deep, hitting just 16.1% of his threes. At this point in his career, there is absolutely no reason for any defender to respect Wroten’s jumper, a weakness that will come to haunt him when he faces elite defenders from here on out.

Comparison Players: The comparison to Tyreke Evans is ubiquitous, and it makes a lot of sense: a big attacking guard who can’t really shoot the ball but likes to pass despite turning it over too much. One thing that Evans has that Wroten has yet to display, though, is an ability to make his free throws at a passable level. If Wroten can improve to the point where he can hit free throws at a high-70s clip, he might be in business. If not, call him Lance Stephenson II, a guy who floats around the league for a couple years earning scant minutes at the end of the bench (choke signs notwithstanding) before needing to find himself a spot either in another league or another profession.

Best Case Scenario: Wroten is able to cut down on his turnovers without limiting his aggressiveness and playmaking ability. While he never turns into a great three-point shooter, he fixes his free throw to the point where he knocks in just over 70%. He quits gambling defensively but is still able to create turnovers with his quick hands and instincts. And the ACL that Wroten tore in his junior year in high school never again causes problems. If all that happens, there is no reason that Wroten can’t be a solid combo guard off the bench for a lot of years in the NBA. But, man, that is a lot of ifs.

Best NBA Fit: The Memphis Grizzlies, toward the end of the first round, would give Wroten a good landing spot. He wouldn’t be required to ever be the guy at point for Memphis, what with Mike Conley locked into the lead guard role there, but he’d have the opportunity to back up Conley as a rookie with a chance to snag minutes at the two in 2013-14 when either O.J. Mayo or Tony Allen is set free. In Memphis, Wroten would have a couple of potent possible pick and roll partners in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, with Rudy Gay a strong option on the receiving end of Wroten’s pinpoint passes.

Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “There’s no questioning Wroten’s talent – he came close to winning Pac 12 player of the year as a freshman (Jorge Gutierrez). He’s a natural PG with great athleticism and size. However, he’s still missing maturity, decision making, and shooting.”

*This post was contributed by RTC’s Andrew Murawa. He can be found on Twitter @amurawa.

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