The Process: Philadelphia 76ers (2013 to 2023)

Senator Donut

post-Domer
SoSH Member
Apr 21, 2010
5,648
There definitely seemed to be an extremely strong consensus that Fultz was the #1 pick. Whether Ainge truly would have taken Tatum #1 or more saw the Tatum + pick option as a much better deal, we'll never know. It certainly goes down as one of the biggest fleeces in history, though.
That 18-19 Philly team was on the brink and they just made one wrong decision after another.
Since new threads are good and this seems to be a topic of discussion across several threads, I think we should break out the Hinkie/Colangelo/Brand/Morey talk about how the Sixers accumulated some of the most promising trade assets and players in the NBA and have apparently squandered them all, never making it past the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The Sixers have experienced Shakespearian levels of comedy (Colangelo's burner accounts) and tragedy (Fultz losing his ability to shoot a basketball) since starting The Process back in 2013. My spark notes version of The Process is below:

2013-14
The Process begins. Hinkie begins to tear the roster down to its studs by trading away young all-star Jrue Holiday. Brett Brown is hired and the Sixers are historically awful, tying a record for longest losing streak.

2014-15
The bad season yields Joel Embiid who misses the year with a pre-draft injury. The Sixers are awful again.

2015-16
The Sixers draft Jahlil Okafor with the third overall pick. They also fleece Sacramento who was looking to dump Nik Stauskas to sign Rajon Rondo (more on that later). They start the year 1-26. Jerry Colangelo is hired above Hinkie.

2016-17
Hinkie quits instead of getting fired. Jerry hires his son Bryan who selects Ben Simmons first overall, but misses the entire season. The team is improved, but still finishes towards the bottom of the league.

2017-18
Swap rights with Sacramento allow them to move up to third overall. The Tatum/Fultz trade happens. Again a high Sixers pick misses much of his first season, as Fultz seemingly has completely lost his jump shot. The Sixers surge up the standings with Simmons and Embiid finally healthy. They lose to up-and-coming Celtics team with Terry Rozier.

2018-19
Colangelo is fired for his tweets. In-season trades bring in Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris who are both pending free agents. The Process, as we knew it, is over and the Sixers want to win now. They lose in agonizing fashion in seven games to the eventual champion Raptors in round 2.

2019-20
In their last season of cap flexibility before big contracts to their stars, the Sixers target Al Horford, re-sign Harris, and trade away Butler. They get swept in the bubble with Simmons injured. Brown is fired.

2020-21
Morey takes over. Tyrese Maxey joins the team. Ben Simmons refuses an open layup and never plays another game for the Sixers. They lose in seven to a mediocre Hawks team.

2021-22
Harden joins. Sixers surprisingly lose to the Heat in round 2 as Embiid misses action.

2022-23
You are here.​
 

TripleOT

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 4, 2007
8,114
Let‘s not forget the genius move of not drafting Mikal Bridges, son of a team employee, instead trading his draft rights for someone named Zaire Smith.

EDIT: A step too slow, like Judge Reinhold in an after school special
 
Last edited:

Senator Donut

post-Domer
SoSH Member
Apr 21, 2010
5,648
Good overview, but I think fumbling the Mikal Bridges draft pick needs to be included in the 2018 section:

https://section215.com/2021/10/17/philadelphia-76ers-bridges-wrong/

(Including the icing on the cake that his mother worked for the 76ers when he was drafted, but they traded him anyway)
Let‘s not forget the genius move of not drafting Mikal Bridges, son of a team employee, instead trading his draft rights for someone named Zaire Smith.
That's a good pull because getting that unprotected Lakers pick was a brilliant Hinkie trade to sell high on Michael Carter-Williams. When the Sixers made that trade they might not have foreseen it would be Bridges wearing a Sixers hat, but just on the basketball merits it was a bad trade. SGA was also one pick later.
 

snowmanny

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 8, 2005
16,055
2014: 1. Embiid/6. Smart
2015: 3. Okafor/16. Rozier
2016: 1.Simmons/ 3. Brown
2017: 1. Fultz/ 3.Tatum
2018: 12. Bridges Z.Smith/ 27. R.Williams

Embiid is, after a three-year pause, great, but with lower picks each year the Celtics nabbed five players who've contributed to playoff runs, four of them still starters on the team.

Edit - And I suppose Rozier was eventually flipped for someone who was later flipped for the fifth starter.
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
35,518
I think people overrate how bad the Bridges trade was... they traded 10 for 16 and a future 1st.
now the pick at 16 didn't turn out, but that's just a normal trade-down and getting a future 1st to move from 10 to 16 is decent value.
Bridges was a real late breakout this year, but if say they take DiVincenzo or Timelord at 16, we probably were talking about how good a deal it was up until Bridges' post-Brooklyn trade explosion.

The Holmes trade is the sneaky terrible one... they traded their competent young backup center for cash, then got bounced in their best playoff run of the process because they had no frontcourt depth and got blown off the floor every time Embiid sat.
 

TripleOT

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 4, 2007
8,114
The Philly other pick in the Fultz-Tatum trade was Romeo Langford, flipped for Derrick White.
 

Senator Donut

post-Domer
SoSH Member
Apr 21, 2010
5,648
The Holmes trade is the sneaky terrible one... they traded their competent young backup center for cash, then got bounced in their best playoff run of the process because they had no frontcourt depth and got blown off the floor every time Embiid sat.
It also directly led to the Al Horford overreaction signing. The Sixers were +89 in 237 minutes with Embiid on the floor and -108 in 49 minutes with him off.
 

HowBoutDemSox

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 12, 2009
10,506
For anyone really interested in a deep dive into the roots and details of The Process, I recommend Yaron Weitzman's "Tanking to the Top," which covers things from why they decided to go all in on The Process through the Kawhi shot that broke up the Butler version of the team.

It's worth noting where they were when The Process started: in 2012, they made the conference semi-finals but lost to the Celtics in seven games (seriously). That was a team with some fun pieces - All-Star Andre Iguodala, soon to be All-Start Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, a rookie Nikola Vučević, a past his prime Elton Brand - but they had never found a true star to replace Iverson as a potential "best player on a championship team" level player. Then their big move in the offseason was to trade Iguodala for Andrew Bynum as part of a four team deal that got Dwight Howard to the Lakers; Bynum's knees promptly gave out and he never played a game for the 76ers that season and left for Cleveland as a free agent the following off-season.

So, having traded their best player away for essentially no value, what were they to do? If you're gonna be bad at that point, be really, really bad. Sam Hinkie was in charge now, and the rest is history.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
31,736
Kyle Neubeck: "The Sixers have re-created the apathy they spent 10 years trying to avoid." One part:0

We can re-litigate the mistakes in team-building and organizational structure for years on end, and many people will in order to cope with this reality. There are dozens of what-ifs to hang onto if fantasy world is your thing. What if Bryan Colangelo isn't ushered into a job, wreaking havoc in the lead chair? What if the Sixers had drafted someone other than Markelle Fultz? What if the Sixers had simply kept Mikal Bridges? What if the Sixers had humored the Spurs' demand of Ben Simmons in 2018 trade talks for Kawhi Leonard? What if they chose Jimmy Butler over Simmons? It's a choose-your-own-adventure novel filled with options to make you believe this project could have been salvaged with just one correct move among many big swings taken by several lead executives. But none of the daydreams overwrite history or change the stakes of the present moment.
 

Senator Donut

post-Domer
SoSH Member
Apr 21, 2010
5,648
It's worth noting where they were when The Process started: in 2012, they made the conference semi-finals but lost to the Celtics in seven games (seriously). That was a team with some fun pieces - All-Star Andre Iguodala, soon to be All-Start Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, a rookie Nikola Vučević, a past his prime Elton Brand - but they had never found a true star to replace Iverson as a potential "best player on a championship team" level player.
As featured in the major motion picture Uncut Gems!

Although the Sixers should be given a lot of credit to taking the Garnett/Pierce Celtics to a game seven, it ought to be noted that this team was an eight-seed that got by the Bulls who lost both Rose and Noah, so their appearance in the second round was somewhat a fluke. 2012 was a weird season with the impact of the lockout.
 

TripleOT

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 4, 2007
8,114
For anyone really interested in a deep dive into the roots and details of The Process, I recommend Yaron Weitzman's "Tanking to the Top," which covers things from why they decided to go all in on The Process through the Kawhi shot that broke up the Butler version of the team.

It's worth noting where they were when The Process started: in 2012, they made the conference semi-finals but lost to the Celtics in seven games (seriously). That was a team with some fun pieces - All-Star Andre Iguodala, soon to be All-Start Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, a rookie Nikola Vučević, a past his prime Elton Brand - but they had never found a true star to replace Iverson as a potential "best player on a championship team" level player. Then their big move in the offseason was to trade Iguodala for Andrew Bynum as part of a four team deal that got Dwight Howard to the Lakers; Bynum's knees promptly gave out and he never played a game for the 76ers that season and left for Cleveland as a free agent the following off-season.

So, having traded their best player away for essentially no value, what were they to do? If you're gonna be bad at that point, be really, really bad. Sam Hinkie was in charge now, and the rest is history.
Trading Vucevic, Iggy, and the 15th pick that became Mo Harkless for Bynum was obvious horrible. If they just stood pat, Vuc and Jrue would have developed into all stars, and Philly fans wouldn’t have been subjected to so many 50+ loss seasons.

During The Process, using very high draft big picks to select a PG who can’t shoot and three centers is not a master class in roster building for today’s NBA.
 

NomarsFool

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 21, 2001
8,629
The Philly other pick in the Fultz-Tatum trade was Romeo Langford, flipped for Derrick White.
I think my mind erased the fact that the pick with Tatum was used for Langford. But, I would argue that the expected value of that pick, at the time, was far better than Langford. I think it was a reasonable expectation that the Kings pick would have been in the top 10, and while that's still no guarantee of a useful player, Langford is definitely a below average return on that pick. The Celtics were unlucky the pick fell to 13, and then were unlucky in the player they selected.

It's still amazing to me that the Celtics ended up with Nesmith and Langford. If only we could go back and time and tell Ainge not to trade for Irving and grab SGA instead.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
38,844
Hingham, MA
I think my mind erased the fact that the pick with Tatum was used for Langford. But, I would argue that the expected value of that pick, at the time, was far better than Langford. I think it was a reasonable expectation that the Kings pick would have been in the top 10, and while that's still no guarantee of a useful player, Langford is definitely a below average return on that pick. The Celtics were unlucky the pick fell to 13, and then were unlucky in the player they selected.

It's still amazing to me that the Celtics ended up with Nesmith and Langford. If only we could go back and time and tell Ainge not to trade for Irving and grab SGA instead.
Totally agree about the expected value of that pick
 

Senator Donut

post-Domer
SoSH Member
Apr 21, 2010
5,648
I think my mind erased the fact that the pick with Tatum was used for Langford. But, I would argue that the expected value of that pick, at the time, was far better than Langford. I think it was a reasonable expectation that the Kings pick would have been in the top 10, and while that's still no guarantee of a useful player, Langford is definitely a below average return on that pick. The Celtics were unlucky the pick fell to 13, and then were unlucky in the player they selected.

It's still amazing to me that the Celtics ended up with Nesmith and Langford. If only we could go back and time and tell Ainge not to trade for Irving and grab SGA instead.
Furthermore, the 2018 Lakers pick would have conveyed if it were 2-5. That pick ended up being 10th and was the aforementioned Mikal Bridges selection.

I mentioned this elsewhere, but the Kings tied the Heat in the 2019 draft order, so a literal coin flip was the difference between Herro and Langford, though we obviously cannot assume that outcome if the order was swapped.
 

TripleOT

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 4, 2007
8,114
I think my mind erased the fact that the pick with Tatum was used for Langford. But, I would argue that the expected value of that pick, at the time, was far better than Langford. I think it was a reasonable expectation that the Kings pick would have been in the top 10, and while that's still no guarantee of a useful player, Langford is definitely a below average return on that pick. The Celtics were unlucky the pick fell to 13, and then were unlucky in the player they selected.

It's still amazing to me that the Celtics ended up with Nesmith and Langford. If only we could go back and time and tell Ainge not to trade for Irving and grab SGA instead.
Plus the Cs lost out on the opportunity to draft Tyler Herro when they, via the Kings, came in third in tiebreaker drawings with the Hornets, who took PJ Washington, and Miami. Boston foolishly beat Miami in games 78 and 79 that season. Boston ended up picking Langford.
 

nighthob

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
12,786
It's still amazing to me that the Celtics ended up with Nesmith and Langford. If only we could go back and time and tell Ainge not to trade for Irving and grab SGA instead.
I'd argue that Boston already ended up with the best player selected after Langford (Grant Williams). Ainge got greedy in the Tatum trade, had he just taken the Lakers pick outright he would have had Mikal Bridges and SGA to choose from in '18. Now the '20 draft would have looked better with Saddiq Bey, Tyrese Maxey, or hell, even Jaden McDaniels. Nesmith was a major whiff.

Totally agree about the expected value of that pick
The thing is not all top 5 picks are created equal. The '18 pool was a lot better than the '19 pool. And had projected that way ahead of time. And if you didn't end up top 5 in '19, you were into the roleplayer section of the draft. Despite the star power of Zion, having an '18 pick would have been better.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
23,204
Simmons and Russillo had some comments about Morey and the Philly front office and how they've enabled a lack of accountability during the last ten years (which obviously pre-dates Morey). The roots of The Process are "It's okay to lose" which can introduce bad habits to players at formative stages in their career. Then when it became time to win, the organization coddled stars, including Simmons, without asking them to be better. Morey is a master of this, and enabled Harden in Houston and continued to enable him in Philly. If Embiid thought there was a conspiracy against him to keep him from winning MVP, then the organization is going to get right behind him and be banging the drum the loudest that there is a conspiracy out there to not vote for Embiid.

I'm not sure how much that really contributes to Philly underachieving, but it's an interesting perspective, especially coming out of a Game 7 where you're two best players didn't show up.
 

Van Everyman

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2009
27,579
Newton
Great summary of the whole sliding-doors-esque debacle.

I will never understand how an owner commits to the Sam Hinkie project, rides-and-dies with it for 3 years, and then just as it's bearing fruit, cashiers him to appease the fans.

View: https://twitter.com/KennyDucey/status/746165418809827328
I mean, the obvious answer is because the dying part of riding-and-dying is really unpleasant and potentially fanbase-killing. You might say ownership didn't really trust the process (and was perhaps right not to?).
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
22,908
Pittsburgh, PA
Right, I'm just saying, having already committed to it to that extent, like having already eaten the proverbial frog, I just don't understand not following through. It's not like something changed in 2016, and it's not like he had done anything other than exactly what he said he was going to do (including accumulating top-pick impact players who were, at the time, obviously going to be impact players). The pitch to the fanbase had been the same all along, and a bunch of them were bought in on sacrifice-for-greatness.
 

nighthob

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
12,786
It's not like Hinkie had some unblemished track record, he had a lot of draft blunders on his record. About the only pick he got right was Embiid and he started that off on the wrong foot by holding JE out injured for two years (he was healthy enough to play by the end of his first year) in order to tank for picks. He'd basically built the situation that Houston's in now. They needed someone to evaluate and bring in veteran players.
 

HowBoutDemSox

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 12, 2009
10,506
For what it’s worth, here’s what Weitzman wrote about Harris souring on Hinkie:
Harris had been drowning under complaints for months, from O’Neil, who wanted a more linear path, and from others throughout the league as well, and he began pushing Hinkie for markers of progress. Hinkie and his staff, feeling the walls closing in, tried devising more effective ways to present the steps they believed they had taken. They had two young lottery centers on the court (Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor) and tons of draft picks and Dario Sarié was a year closer to joining the team and Joel Embiid's health was improving and thanks to all the losses another lottery pick was on the way. It would soon all be visible and evident. They just needed to remain patient.

But the Okafor saga - the drunken videos, the reports of reckless and dangerous behavior, most of all the ensuing bad press - had moved Harris out of Hinkie's corner. It didn't matter that Hinkie was running a private-equity-like playbook - take over a distressed asset; tear everything down - or that he was doing exactly what he'd told Harris he would. Harris wasn't used to his business being in the papers every day. "We own this chemical company that was $50 billion, but nobody cares about the price of propylene," he once said. "But the Sixers starting lineup, everyone has an opinion." He didn't like the constant criticism, or the way the narrative had seemed to permanently turn. Less than three years earlier Sixers fans had showered him with cheers at the press conference introducing Andrew Bynum. He missed that feeling.

He'd asked Hinkie to address some of the public concerns. Hinkie never did. Harris knew that Silver, who had expressed his displeasure with tanking both privately and publicly, was eager for the Sixers to make a change. He asked for help.

Silver was delighted. He suggested a few names. One was Rod Thorn, a septuagenarian NBA lifer who served as Sixers president under Harris from 2011 to 2013 before leaving to become the NBA's president of basketball operations. Another was Colangelo.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

has fancy plans, and pants to match
Dope
SoSH Member
Apr 12, 2001
24,881
Right, I'm just saying, having already committed to it to that extent, like having already eaten the proverbial frog, I just don't understand not following through. It's not like something changed in 2016, and it's not like he had done anything other than exactly what he said he was going to do (including accumulating top-pick impact players who were, at the time, obviously going to be impact players). The pitch to the fanbase had been the same all along, and a bunch of them were bought in on sacrifice-for-greatness.
IDK. A five-year, we're going to tank really fucking bad plan sounds good in theory, but once you're in the middle of season three and you're still getting your head kicked in, you're a bit of a laughing stock and there doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel (I'm talking 35 wins), then it's real easy to pull the plug on the thought experiment. That's kind of the problem with tanking, right? If you're the GM, you're asking the owner, the players, the front office staff, the coaching staff and the fans to buy in and trust that you know what you're doing because five seasons (or even three seasons) is a lot of shitty basketball to watch without the guarantee that you're going to be good, much less a championship contender. There are just so many variables that are completely uncontrollable in sports.

That's why it makes me laugh when people fall for "The Process" scam.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
23,204
Michael Lombardi was on the Bill Simmons podcast today and just destroyed everyone and everything associated with the 76ers and The Process, to the degree it came off as weirdly personal.
 

thehitcat

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 25, 2003
2,392
Windham, ME
Michael Lombardi was on the Bill Simmons podcast today and just destroyed everyone and everything associated with the 76ers and The Process, to the degree it came off as weirdly personal.
He's been a fan of the Sixers forever. So in that respect I think it probably is particularly personal. The team basically asked the fans to live with 5 years of awful basketball with the theory they'd win championships when they came out of it You know how we get when the Sox have a dip but it's been a long time since we've had 5 years as bad as 13-18 even with the surge in season 5.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
23,204
He's been a fan of the Sixers forever. So in that respect I think it probably is particularly personal. The team basically asked the fans to live with 5 years of awful basketball with the theory they'd win championships when they came out of it You know how we get when the Sox have a dip but it's been a long time since we've had 5 years as bad as 13-18 even with the surge in season 5.
Yeah, I know he is a Philly guy and obviously he has plenty of front-office experience in another sport, but he goes totally scorched earth on everybody, especially Embiid.
 

astrozombie

New Member
Sep 12, 2022
493
I can't get enough of The Process, I find it fascinating. One of the issues that the 76ers front office had, and someone on this board alluded to, is that they just weren't great with evaluating or developing talent (with some exceptions obviously - I really like Maxey). The average sports fan is so inured to this linear thinking of bad=high draft pick=good player=team gets better and that's just not true. Some drafts you get Olowokandi or Anthony Bennett. Some you get Wiggins, who had to go somewhere else to maximize his potential. Sometimes the best player is not in the top 5 (Giannis, Kawhi). Sometimes the lottery balls don't land in your favor (the Pistons this year, the Cs in 2007). The 76ers hit on Embiid, but that's in part because of injury concerns that prevented him from going first overall. Who knows if he ends up going to Cleveland (then flipped for Love) and he ends up injuring himself playing for a young (bad) MN team and turning into Greg Oden. And yet... I think Hinkie knew this and his idea was to collect as many lotto tickets as possible precisely because you never know who is going to end up busting or what year a draft is going to have a generational talent. It's wild.
 

ElUno20

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
6,308
Yeah, I know he is a Philly guy and obviously he has plenty of front-office experience in another sport, but he goes totally scorched earth on everybody, especially Embiid.
It was great. Went on forever. I listened while snacking on popcorn
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
35,518
The thing with Hinkie was....
He was very good at getting value in trades (likely because he didn't ever care about if his team was good)
The general idea behind the Process makes sense.

The negatives are....
He never seemed to have a clear idea how you build a basketball team. He went hunting for a star, but he didn't seem to really know how you develop the prospect into a star... so things like having your 3 best players all play C... or not having a single competent guard who could get the ball to your star C in good spots, or having no vets who could teach how to play NBA level defense and hold guys accountable. Learning to play at the NBA level is hard, having 9 guys all trying to do it at once is going to lower your hit rate.

Hinkie probably benefits from being fired, the more I look back at him, the more I think that if he stayed not only do the Sixers never become even what they are now, Embiid probably never becomes an MVP level player.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
23,204
The problem with The Process is you just can't be that brazen about trying to lose. You need to sell fans on some level of hope--I think fans understand a rebuilding process, and even understand when a team like Portland packs it in towards the end of the season to better their lottery odds. But when you have multiple seasons where not only are you rebuilding, but the top draft picks aren't even playing, it's hard to sell fans on there being any hope on a night-to-night basis.

It may be performative, but fans will accept the illusion that a team is trying to win even if they are "tanking" as long as there are some interesting younger players on the court that fans can dream on for a better tomorrow. That's harder to do when the young players are all in street clothes and haven't suited up yet.
 

PedroKsBambino

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 17, 2003
32,441
A simple way to describe Hinkie's problem is that he didn't know when (and I suspect also, how) to move from "asset accumulation" to "win accumulation"

At core, taking a couple years to tank is a good strategy for a bunch of NBA teams. But you have to realize that it can't go on forever, and it is not obvious when and how you flip. Hinkie never persuaded the owner or the fans there was a clear point in time or way to tell when to 'hope' and that eventually stops selling---not just to you own side, but also to commissioner, other owners etc. I generally think Hinkie was an effective GM given where he started, but you have to get to a real NBA team on the court at some point and we have little reason to beleive he knew how to do that.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

has fancy plans, and pants to match
Dope
SoSH Member
Apr 12, 2001
24,881
The problem with The Process is you just can't be that brazen about trying to lose. You need to sell fans on some level of hope--I think fans understand a rebuilding process, and even understand when a team like Portland packs it in towards the end of the season to better their lottery odds. But when you have multiple seasons where not only are you rebuilding, but the top draft picks aren't even playing, it's hard to sell fans on there being any hope on a night-to-night basis.

It may be performative, but fans will accept the illusion that a team is trying to win even if they are "tanking" as long as there are some interesting younger players on the court that fans can dream on for a better tomorrow. That's harder to do when the young players are all in street clothes and haven't suited up yet.
No one wants to pay NBA prices to watch a team try to lose. Owners like full houses because they make money. That's really the bottom line and that's why thought experiments like The Process never work.
 

benhogan

Granite Truther
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
20,955
Santa Monica
Danny Ainge has given 2 masterclasses on tearing teams down to the studs, starting a "Process" & staying relevant/interesting (to their fans) during that period.

If an NBA team is going down that road they should strive to emulate the 2013 Celtics and 2023 Jazz.
 

jablo1312

New Member
Sep 20, 2005
1,049
Just a few quick things here:

-Hinkie resigned, he wasn't fired. By all accounts the NBA intervened in late 2015 and pushed Josh Harris to install a more respected, traditional basketball executive into place in Philly (Jerry Colangelo) because the league was sick of both the excessive tanking and I assume the amount of attention the organization was calling to itself via The Process. Hinkie resigned when it becamse clear that Colangelo's kid would be taking over as the final decision maker for basketball ops. I do think Philly + Hinkie didn't fully think through the ramifications of brazenly tanking for years, while sources from inside the front office constantly crowed to the media non-stop about how smart they were- I assume the league office wasn't fond of that and specifically wasn't fond of other teams emulating this strategy of a half-decade tank (and it's potential impact on local TV ratings). He treated the league kind of like a strategy simulation w/ permanently set parameters rather then the human, fluid construct that it is, if that makes sense.

-Saying the 6ers made bad draft picks is fine, but most of the asset squandering (in terms of picks, value added contracts, and cap space) came after Hinkie departed, moves that were made by executives the league pushed Philly to install. The ownership group gets some blame here as well b/c it's not like they were forced to have those individuals run the team ad infinitum.

-If I'm not mistaken Hinkie and his FO never claimed to be talent experts who could draft better then everyone else, and actually had the opposite belief that most teams were more or less the same at drafting and the real edge in continaully tanking is giving yourself enough cracks at top prospects to find one who could be a legitimate #1 option on a championship team. I don't necessarily completely agree with this, but most academic studies on the NFL draft have come to similar conclusions. The NBA is a different format of a league, though, where the impact on an individual player is so high that I don't know if you can treat drafting as completely random. I haven't actually looked into this, but I'd be willing to be a higher % of "misses" in the NBA draft are due to teams drafting for "fit" instead of their overall evaluation of a prospect. But the strategy of collecting tons of draft picks to get a true star is one that obv a lot of other teams believe in as well.

-I think it's fair to say that while Hinkie won basically every trade he completed in terms of overall expected value for a franchise, he was basically operating with a different set of incentives then the majority of his trade partners (he had legitimately 0% concern for how the current team would be impacted). This allowed Philly to strip mine the franchise for draft assets whenever possible from 13-16, including as mentioned above trading the defending ROY for a future first round pick, which was a great trade in hindsight and maybe the event that really kicked off the firestorm about the ethics of excessive tanking.

-I don't think its fair to say that the whole Process thing really impacted the fanbase that much- no one much wanted to go to games when they were horrible but a lot of fans were very invested in the team-building aspect. Philly seems to have just as engaged a fanbase as they did a decade ago w/o looking for strong evidence in either direction there.

-It seems pretty clear now that while you don't need to do it for so long, or so thoroughly, tanking is a legimiate strategy for franchises that can't attract superstar free agents to try and push themselves up in the NBA pecking order. W/o being LA/Mia/BRK, you basically have to get "lucky" in the draft to move into the NBA's upper class. Milwaukee picked a perennial MVP candidate at 13, Denver at 41. Without those 2 picks, I'd imagine both of those franchises look much closer to Indiana or Orlando over the past 5 years then what they've turned into.

Re-reading this I think it comes across as more pro-Hinkie then I actually feel- he's definitely not some revolutionary type thinker, just someone who really got ownership to go all in on this idea for a few years. He and his FO seemed like one of the more fluid thinking ones out there, though.
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
35,518
Just a few quick things here:

-Saying the 6ers made bad draft picks is fine, but most of the asset squandering (in terms of picks, value added contracts, and cap space) came after Hinkie departed, moves that were made by executives the league pushed Philly to install. The ownership group gets some blame here as well b/c it's not like they were forced to have those individuals run the team ad infinitum.
Kind of... but not really to me. They made mistakes while trying to win, but... Noel and Okafor both had their value as assets tank hard before Hinkie ever left, whether those were just bad picks or they never developed because of the situation... hard to say., but those were supposed to be two of the blue chip players/assets of the process and they ended up being not much.

I think people overrate how easy it is to build a team that exits the 2nd round every year... it's not what you want, but that takes a lot
 

Auger34

used to be tbb
SoSH Member
Apr 23, 2010
11,191
Kind of... but not really to me. They made mistakes while trying to win, but... Noel and Okafor both had their value as assets tank hard before Hinkie ever left, whether those were just bad picks or they never developed because of the situation... hard to say., but those were supposed to be two of the blue chip players/assets of the process and they ended up being not much.

I think people overrate how easy it is to build a team that exits the 2nd round every year... it's not what you want, but that takes a lot
honestly, I don’t think the Noel pick was that bad. However, the Okafor pick was absolutely awful and never made any sense
 

Nick Kaufman

protector of human kind from spoilers
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Aug 2, 2003
13,474
A Lost Time
I like Hinkie and what his saga represents. Long term thinking vs short term thinking. That's the crux of the matter.
 

Devizier

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 3, 2000
19,877
Somewhere
No postmortem of the process can forget that it involved taking two high (injury) risk guys early who each required a redshirt year. Obviously they both worked out in that regard, Simmons ended up failing for other reasons. But taking redshirt guys meant that they couldn’t gear up to compete until they were healthy.

Not moving on from Simmons was the biggest miss although it can go the other way, too (basically the Bulls of the post-Jordan era).
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
35,518
honestly, I don’t think the Noel pick was that bad. However, the Okafor pick was absolutely awful and never made any sense
yeah, I think the Noel pick was fine, they just didn't develop or sell high on him, so by the end of Hinkie's tenure he was shaky in terms of value (then got traded for a mediocre 1st), the Okafor pick was incredibly stupid at the time, I'm sure if the posts are still here I hated that at the time.
 

Auger34

used to be tbb
SoSH Member
Apr 23, 2010
11,191
I just listened to the Lombardi thing with Simmons….pretty clear he’s an NFL guy and not an NBA guy. The stuff he was pushing just doesn’t fly in the NBA and NBA stars are way more coddled than NFL stars.

I posted about this in another thread but I think the whole thing is much more simple than Simmons and Lombardi want to pontificate about. Rivers and Morey are whiners…when the entire leadership of the team loves to whine and point fingers, your team is going to do that too. (Plus Embiid and Harden are incredible grifters and that’s not as effective in the playoffs)
 

Pmoose82

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 28, 2003
137
No postmortem of the process can forget that it involved taking two high (injury) risk guys early who each required a redshirt year. Obviously they both worked out in that regard, Simmons ended up failing for other reasons. But taking redshirt guys meant that they couldn’t gear up to compete until they were healthy.

Not moving on from Simmons was the biggest miss although it can go the other way, too (basically the Bulls of the post-Jordan era).
Simmons wasn't considered an injury risk heading into the draft, he just ended up breaking his foot in training camp.
 

Smokey Joe

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 9, 2001
1,229
I like Hinkie and what his saga represents. Long term thinking vs short term thinking. That's the crux of the matter.
I don’t like Hinkie and I also love what what this Saga represents.
Gutting your team for multiple draft picks. Destroying team culture by treating players as interchangeable game tokens. Alienating other GMs by bragging about “winning” trades. Alienating agents by strong arming players into grossly unfavorable deals. Alienating fans (and players) by not having any interest in team continuity or actually winning games. And finally drafting and developing players like you are throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks.
All of these things are the epitome of short term thinking.
 

Euclis20

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2004
8,701
Imaginationland
Simmons wasn't considered an injury risk heading into the draft, he just ended up breaking his foot in training camp.
Yeah Embiid was the injury risk (he would've gone #1 if healthy), but Simmons was always a no-brainer #1 pick (just as Ingram was the no-brainer #2 pick, then it got fuzzy). You can blame the Sixers for how they handled Simmons during his tenure, but absolutely can't fault the pick itself.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
31,736
-It seems pretty clear now that while you don't need to do it for so long, or so thoroughly, tanking is a legimiate strategy for franchises that can't attract superstar free agents to try and push themselves up in the NBA pecking order. W/o being LA/Mia/BRK, you basically have to get "lucky" in the draft to move into the NBA's upper class. Milwaukee picked a perennial MVP candidate at 13, Denver at 41. Without those 2 picks, I'd imagine both of those franchises look much closer to Indiana or Orlando over the past 5 years then what they've turned into.
Not a fan of tanking in theory but practically speaking - particularly in the NBA - it's super rational. As you point out, teams need a superstar in the NBA to compete, and if a team doesn't have one, it's either FA or draft. And while MIL and DEN both got super lucky, the odds of drafting a superstar outside the top 5 aren't great (yes it happens but it doesn't happen frequently).

To me, the real problem is that the draft incentivizes losing. We've talked over a variety of threads of how to address that but I don't have any easy answers.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

posts way less than 18% useful shit
SoSH Member
Nov 17, 2010
14,598
It's not like Hinkie had some unblemished track record, he had a lot of draft blunders on his record. About the only pick he got right was Embiid and he started that off on the wrong foot by holding JE out injured for two years (he was healthy enough to play by the end of his first year) in order to tank for picks. He'd basically built the situation that Houston's in now. They needed someone to evaluate and bring in veteran players.
Didn't Embiid have a second foot surgery before the start of his second season? Had they allowed him to play at the end of his first season, he most likely ends up missing the second season anyway.

Regardless, the NBA graveyard is littered with the corpses of big men with foot injuries. I've wondered if the extra caution with Embiid might have saved his career.