Tony Wroten is a 26 year old 198 cm forward from Seattle Washington playing his first season with Anwil Wloclawek (Poland-EBL). After many years in the NBA, he came overseas last year and played with BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn (Latvia-LatEstBL) playing 15 VTB United League games averaging 15.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 5.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 57.3%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 63.6%; and 3 Estonian KML games averaging 13.0ppg, 4.7rpg, 8.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 87.5%; and 17 LatEstBL game averaging 7.0ppg, 2.9rpg, Assists-1 (7.6apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 19.5%, FT: 46.9%. He played one season at Washington (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 16.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.6apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 18.0%, FT: 57.6%. In 2012 he was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies (NBA,1rd (25). He played in the NBA from 2012-2016 with the Philadelphia 76ers playing 110 games and averaged 12,8ppg and 16,9ppg in two seasons. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Basketball Champions League game in Vechta.
Tony thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Welcome back to Germany. You played in many big cities in the NBA and G-League. Is it a huge culture shock spending some time in the middle of nowhere in Vechta?
I’m used to it now. Last season when I was in Lativa it was a big culture shock. But now having traveled a lot in Europe, I’m more used to it.
You have had so many teammates in your career, but does the name Martin Breunig ring a bell? He was your German teammate at Washington (NCAA).
Yeh I remember him. He went to my school. He was a good dude. He redshirted the year I was there so we never played together. I know that he is also playing in the Basketball Champions League. Maybe we will play against each other. Then we can catch up.
You played at the U-19 World Championships in Hamburg in 2010. What memories do you have of being in Germany and winning the Gold Medal?
What I remembered the most was just having that experience with my teammates. Just being able to play with guys like Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal was priceless. We were in high school and just all the traveling and being without our families is also something I will never forget. Winning the Gold medal was huge. It is something that we can always tell our families forever.
Your playing your second season overseas and first with Anwil Wloclawek (Poland-EBL). What kind of experience has it been playing in Poland. Do you still have needed adjustment to playing overseas or did you season in Latvia prepare you already?
I don’t need anymore adjustment now. I’m used to it now. I really love playing in Europe. I love the crazy fans and I am able to play for one of the best coaches in Europe. He wants to see me win and be successful. He pushes me to the maximum and never let’s me slack off. I see my future looking bright.
You have three other Americans on board and with Ricky Ledo another ex NBA player. Do you and Ricky sometimes talk about the good old days of the NBA? Do you remember playing against each other?
We actually never played against each other in the NBA. We talk about the NBA. My teammates want to hear stories about the NBA. I have no problem talking about my days in the NBA.I will always cherish the moments that I had in the NBA. Especially the local players on my team like to hear the NBA stories. Playing in the NBA was a dream come true and it’s not over yet.
Last season you played your first season overseas with BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn (Latvia-LatEstBL). What was your wake up call to being your first season overseas when you knew that you were very far away from home?
My wake up call was just knowing that family and friends couldn’t visit me with a 1-2 hour plane trip.
Last season you led the LatEstBL in assists with 7,6apg. How proud are you of achieving this considering you never averaged that much in the NCAA or pro’s?
That’s what I do. I would always rather set up my teammates first. It was a big achievement, but it wasn’t surprising to me. My season in Lativa was a blessing and one I will build on.
You played parts of four seasons in the NBA with Memphis, and Philadelphia. The trend has been for years to to come out early and go to the NBA. Do you ever wonder how your career might have gone had you played a few more years in the NCAA to further develop your game?
No I never thought about it. You can always ask the what if’s, but I never ever regretted my decision to come out early. Things always happen for a reason.
You were drafted by Memphis in 2012, but played that rookie season in the G-League with Reno. How tough was that first professional season not getting a chance to showcase your skills in the NBA?
It wasn’t tough. It just motivated me to get better. I knew that I still had things to work on. I knew that my time would come. I showed what I could do with the 76ers.
In your second season you finally got a real chance with the Philadelphia 76ers. Playing 72 games averaging 12.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 21.3%, FT: 64.1%. What was the first example that you witnessed in the NBA where you knew that you had arrived in the NBA?
Being the first person to get a triple double in his first start.
In your first career start with the 76ers, you set an NBA record of producing a triple double in your first career start. What do you remember from this game and how proud are you of this milestone?
I just remember after getting the triple double that I was here. I realized that all the hard work that I had ever put in had paid off. My record is something that will never be broken. There will be guys that will do it, but I will always be the first that ever did it.
You played two seasons with Michael Carter-Williams who had a great start to his NBA career. How vital was his presence and daily battles in practice for your game and are you surprised that he hasn’t had those huge roles with his last teams Bulls, Hornets and Rockets?
Michael played a big role. Most guys that play the same position usually don’t get along, but that wasn’t the case with us. We got along great and really went at it in practice. We made each other better and it translated into games. Our constant battles each day made us better and stronger.
You had your best NBA season with the 76ers in 2014-2015 playing 30 games averaging 16.9ppg, 2.9rpg, 5.2apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 47.3%, 3PT: 26.1%, FT: 66.7%.. The season was going so well, but you then injured your knee. Did this injury cost you your career in the NBA? Do you think that you might still be there had you stayed healthy?
You can always speculate what may have happened if this or that happened. Injuries are a part of the game. You never know what can happen. I think that coming to Europe was a huge step for me. I had still had to mature in some areas. At the end of the day, I have seen my maturity grow here. It will continue to help me in my career.
In the 2016-2017 season you return back to the team that drafted you Memphis. You didn’t play in the NBA that season, but in the G-League and Venezuela. Was it strange returning there after they had given up on you?
It was easy going back to Memphis. It was pretty much the same team. I wasn’t a newcomer.
In the 2017-2018 season you played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (NBA G League) playing 35 games averaging 10.8ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.8apg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 27.7%, FT: 53.7%. Did you ever have the feeling that season like you could earn a NBA call up?
Yes I did. I am always expecting it. I always want to better myself. Everything happens for a reason. My time will come.
You played some years in the NBA and also had many great experiences. What did you cherish most about having had the chance to play with the best in the world?
Just being able to soak it all up from so many great players. I was able to take pieces here and there from so many players and add it to my game. In the summer, I’m always working with great players to continue to better myself. There are only 400 NBA players. All are good at what they do.
You played one season with Washington (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 16.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.6apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 18.0%, FT: 57.6%. Was the 86-84 loss against Oregon State where you scored 29 points one of your toughest loses in your career?
That wasn’t one of the toughest. It is a part of the game. It was just a loss.
There were so many talented guys with you at Washington (NCAA) like Terrence Ross and Chris Wilcox and your self that made the NBA. Your talented teammate Abdul Gaddy didn’t. He had a solid season in the G-league last year and in Europe for years. Do you keep tabs on his career?
Yes I do. He is with the Oklahoma Thunder. He is doing very well with them. He may not get there right away, but if he stays with it it could happen.
How did head coach Lorenzo Romar groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He is a great teacher. He groomed us for so much more than just basketball, but for everything in life. I will always be forever grateful for his guidance
Who won a one on one on one in practice you or Chris Wilcox
It’s crazy but we never ever played. I always played against Terence Ross.
Who was the toughest cover in the NCAA for you at Washington (NCAA) that reached the NBA?
If you had to name your own personal NBA Rushmore, which four heads would you chose?
Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Lebron is the best.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Joker. I wish that there would have been a little more action in it.
Thanks Tony for the chat.