When to Give up On "The Process"
For the better part of the past decade the Philadelphia 76ers have been the laughing stock of the NBA. To be honest since Allen Iverson last wore the Sixers jersey the team has barely been relevant. If the 76ers were not in the NBA it would just take away wins from the other bad teams in American Professional basketball. Now that the 76ers bashing is done let's take a look at what is really going on in Philadelphia and why it’s not working. The best team to compare the 76ers to right now is the Boston Celtics. Yes that sounds silly, but they are actually going through similar transitions. The big difference is that Boston is doing a way better job at rebuilding.
For those of you that do not know, the Philadelphia 76ers have a motto that is “trust in the process,” which was a clever way by management to preach patience among the fans. This has caught on so much so that Center Joel Embiid gave himself the nickname ‘the Process”. The architect behind this idea was Sam Hinkie a young up and coming basketball executive. He was given the general manager position in the summer of 2013. From there he preached that “tanking” to get high draft picks and then build the team from there. Yes, that means purposely losing to get the talent necessary to compete in the NBA. Rather than purposely losing, purposely putting together a terrible team that will lose night in and night out to get high draft picks. If Sam Hinkie was good at anything it was losing and getting fans to be completely ok with losing. The NBA is an interesting landscape where if you do not have a superstar, or two, or three, or with the Golden State Warriors four, you have a very slim chance of winning. It makes complete sense; the best way to get a superstar is to draft them. How did Golden State get Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson? They drafted them. Although they did not need lottery picks for those guys.
So let’s look at how successful Hinkie really was. Besides getting fans to accept losing, Hinkie was very good at compiling draft picks. After he took over in 2013, Hinkie acquired Nerlens Noel in a trade for Jrue Holiday and drafted point guard Michael Carter-Williams. From there it became a pick gathering spree for Hinkie. In 2014 the 76ers had 7 picks in the draft. Those turned into Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, KJ McDaniels, Jerami Grant, Vasilije Micic, and Jordan McRae. The last pick was traded away. In 2015, the 76ers drafted Jahlil Okafor, Richaun Holmes, and J.P. Tokoto. Just to keep up the trend with the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft the 76ers selected Ben Simmons (not a Sam Hinkie pick). All this really shows is that they moved a lot of players to Philadelphia. Hinkie took the approach of the more guys we draft, the more likely we will hit lightning in a bottle. What actually happened was, Sam Hinkie had 3 young players that played the same position. His later round picks basically did nothing and there was a lot more losing.
One of the most amazing things is the amount of injuries that happened to these players. Joel Embiid sat out for 2 years. Ben Simmons has still not played a game in the NBA. What has not been mentioned yet, is that Hinkie is no longer making the decisions in Philadelphia. Bryan Colangelo inherited “The Process” in 2016. Since taking over Colangelo drafted and injured potential star in Simmons and traded away Nerlens Noel for basically nothing. When should 76ers fans become angry? The answer is right now. The team is in disarray and there is not really an end in sight. Sure there are some good things like the potential of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, but the Sixers should be competing by now. It is frustrating as a fan to sit and watch the Boston Celtics basically under the same circumstances become relevant faster and better than the 76ers. Basically, 76ers fans have to be upset with losing and hold the team, ownership, and players accountable. The 76ers are a historic team and the city of Philadelphia loses enough as a fanbase, they deserve a better basketball team.
Info and statistics courtesy of NBA.com, B-ball Ref, S.I. , CSN and Fox Sports