MIGHT BE time for a decision to be made by 76ers coach Brett Brown.
His job has been made a bit easier now that rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams has returned after missing seven games with a skin infection in his right knee. But it has also put a wrinkle into his thinking.
While Carter-Williams was recovering, Tony Wroten proved to be quite a commodity as the starting point guard. Of course, Wroten is not going to take over the position from MCW, but maybe there is room for the two of them in the starting backcourt.
Brown had been shuttling James Anderson and Hollis Thompson in the two-guard starting spot early in the season, with Wroten backing up MCW when healthy. When MCW was out, Wroten was given the 30-plus starter minutes at the point.
But here's what Wroten has proved on this team: that he is worthy of major minutes. Those won't come with Carter-Williams healthy. But at 6-6 and with a scorer's mentality, getting Wroten time on the court is starting to become a must.
"Tony has proven and shown that he commands minutes," Brown said. "They are going to have to prove to me that they can coexist together, because if they can play together I think that they offer something quite unique: in their pick-and-roll games, with somebody being righthanded and somebody being lefthanded, and we can space and play together. I'm putting that on them. They are going to get their opportunities but it's going to be 'show me.' They think that they can deliver."
This is a year for this organization to find players who can prove they belong in the league. Brown has said that it is what he is looking for. Maybe winning is the goal of the future, but finding players who can help attain that goal is the current plan. Wroten has been the most intriguing candidate on the roster to be one of those. Others, like Anderson and Thompson, are also on the radar.
"When you start to say what does that mean to Hollis or James, there's an obvious trickle-down that means somebody is going to take a hit," said Brown. "Inevitably you want your best players on the floor and it's on me to find ways to do that. I think that Tony Wroten deserves the opportunity to be seen as a two-guard and not just play the 12 minutes that Michael doesn't play. So that's on me and inevitably on them."
So does Brown throw Wroten into the starting lineup as a shooting guard or try to make him valuable off the bench, where all coaches enjoy having an offensive punch?
"I think you like that any time [having a scorer come off the bench]," Brown said. "I think players that can do that coming off the bench like James has been asked to do as a scorer - like [Manu] Ginobili did, Lou Williams down in Atlanta. Everybody has one coming off the bench. Those types of guys are always helpful. When you come in with a young second group and they start to get their own identity, then you have something to offer with your second team.
"So him [Wroten] off the bench and him ending games may be [preferable] with Michael. Who knows? We do have to make sure we guard, have some sort of defensive liability."