State of the Sixers Part 1: A check-in on how unabashed tanking is going for Sam Hinkie and the 76ers.
There has been a lot of talk about the Philadelphia 76ers. The media makes claims how it is bad for the game and how it takes advantage of the NBA Lottery. Some say it will never work, and that all this rebuilding hasn’t gotten the Sixers anywhere. Before I get into what I think, here is a little recap of what has come to be known as “The Process.”
Phase 1: The Sixers hire general manager Sam Hinkie.
After hiring Tony DiLeo during the 2012 NBA off-season, the Sixers proceeded to trading away many assets, including Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, for Andrew Bynum. Needless to say, that didn’t end well. So after just one year, Philly fired DiLeo and hired Sam Hinkie, shifting from asset burner to asset hoarder.
Phase 2: Making a splash.
In his first major move with the Sixers, Hinkie traded away All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday in return for Nerlens Noel and a Top-5 pick in the following draft. This first move really set the tone for the tenure of Hinkie, trading short term (an All-Star) for long term (a big man coming off ACL surgery and a future draft pick). He also drafted Michael Carter-Williams, who ended up winning rookie of the year. Both moves seemed to start off the Hinkie era swimmingly.
Phase 3: Ummm… How long is this gonna take?
The first season and second draft of Hinkie showed he was all in on tanking and being a horrible basketball team until they stumbled upon a superstar. They tied the NBA record for longest losing streak (a record they would eventually break). And, what did they get for all of this losing? The third pick in the 2014 NBA draft, which they used on another injured big man in Joel Embiid. (Spoiler Alert: He still hasn’t played a game. It’s 2016, for those keeping track). He then drafted Dario Saric, who, due to his Euro-league contract, still hasn’t even joined the team, let alone play a game. In other words, quite a lot of losing for nothing and still nothing to show for it.
Phase 4: Restarting the restart.
So basically, the only thing that Hinkie had to show for all his losing, in terms of NBA talent, was Michael Carter-Williams and a hobbled Nerlens Noel. Well, no longer, as Hinkie traded Michael Carter-Williams for a couple role players and a pick. So at this point, a lot of people were probably getting frustrated with ol’ Hinkie. Also in this trade, the Sixers gave up KJ McDaniels, who was a second round pick who was actually doing some things for them.
Then, in the 2015 draft, Hinkie selected big man Jahlil Okafor, a player many called the second best prospect behind Karl Anthony-Towns (now playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves). Not necessarily a superstar that Hinkie is so desperate to get, but definitely a player who can stuff the stat sheet and get a bucket in the post.
Phase 5: Shortening the leash.
After going 37-127 in his first two seasons, then starting this season a red-hot 1-25 start, Hinkie’s seemingly unending leash started to tighten. Philadelphia brought in NBA exec Jerry Colangelo to attempt to bring some competence to their organization. So now, Hinkie isn’t in complete control of this team, and Colangelo will probably start pushing this team toward being, you know, not a trash fire.
So that’s where we are. In Part 2, I’ll get more into what moves worked, whether I think Hinkie is doing a good job, and just how close the 76ers are to being a contender. Until next time.
Collegian NBA Blogger John Scriffiny can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JScriff