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The Joel Embiid setback has caused some to start to “
Trust Question the Process” the 76ers have adopted under GM Sam Hinkie. It even caused a father-son spat (surely not the first) on the Innes-Bruno Show (without the vacationing Innes, so sports was the main topic. Sorry, Radio Wars). It was Howard vs. Spike in the Battle of the Eskins as Howard tried to scream over Spike’s solid defense of the Hinkie vision. For a listen:
After two years of tanking under Hinkie, it was supposed to start now. And Embiid was the center of it (and still can be as there’s still a shroud of mystery surrounding the seriousness of the setback). Now, some worry it was all for naught. (Not Howard Eskin as he’s a genius and knew this was a disaster from the beginning… not that it had anything to do with Hinkie’s total refusal to give him the time of day or anything.)
Embiid’s health aside. This had to happen and here are 9 reasons why “The Process” is progress, record be damned:
- The NBA Is Dominated By Great Teams (And Great Players)
Since the NBA expanded to 16 teams in the playoffs, two 5-8 seeds have made the NBA Finals. One — the ’94-95 Rockets, a 6th seed featuring HOFer Hakeem Olajuwon — won the Championship and the other — the ’98-99 Knicks, an 8th seed featuring HOFer Patrick Ewing — lost in the Championship. Between “The Answer” and “The Process”, the 76ers spent 7 years mastering mediocrity with 4 playoff appearances as a 7th, 6th, 7th and 8th seed and a sole 2nd round appearance thanks to a fluke Derrick Rose injury.
- The Inherited Roster Was Fiscally Bad & Talentless
Watching Andre Iguodala in the NBA Finals is a reminder of his time in Philly. Some even are silly enough to think maybe it was a mistake to get rid of him. However, Hinkie didn’t even have that option as Iggy was gone prior to Hinkie’s arrival. Instead, the squad featured Jrue Holiday, Thad Young, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Nick Young.
- Big Name Free Agents Won’t Come Here Without A Superstar Attraction
In ’13 & ’14, the big free agents that changed teams were Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and LeBron James. Howard went to play with James Harden, Pau Gasol went to play with Derrick Rose and LeBron went home. The Sixers had NO shot.
- Second Tier Free Agents Have To Be Overpaid
To lure Lance Stephenson away from Indiana, it cost the Charlotte Hornets $9 million per year and now have them saddled with Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes after Stephenson flopped. The Miami Heat paid $10 million per for about 15 points/game from Luol Deng. Neither team made the playoffs and neither won the NBA Lottery. The Heat also have cap problems which put them in a tough position this offseason.
- If They Recognized Michael Carter-Williams Was Not A Future Star (And He’s Probably Not), They Sold Very High
Since ’86, Michael Carter-Williams was one of 22 rookies to have a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 15 or higher and a True Shooting % below .500. The rookie of the year had a 15.5 PER and .480 TS%.Of those 22 rookies, not counting MCW, only 7 had a PER the next season below 15. Emeka Okafor, Larry Hughes, Bob Sura, Ervin Johnson, Gerald Glass, John “Hot Plate” Williams and Jerry Reynolds. Okafor was hurt and rebounded. The rest were stiffs.Here’s the list of the 15 to put up a second season with a 15+ PER. John Henson, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Josh Howard, LeBron James, Zach Randolph, Antawn Jamison, Antoine Walker, Jason Kidd, Toni Kukoc, Kendall Gill, Lionel Simmons, Pooh Richardson and Mark Jackson.
MCW? 14.1 PER (12.8 when traded by the Sixers) and a .461 TS% (.444 when dealt). Of this group of 22 rookies, MCW’s .461 TS% is the worst.
- Before You Get The Free Agents You Need, It’s Easier To Build Through The Draft
This year’s Warriors were built through the draft and supplemented via free agency. There’s a great breakdown of how the roster breaks down on Sekou Smith’s Hang Time Blog by John Schuhmann. The Warriors nailed it in ’12 with Harrison Barnes at 7, Festus Ezeli at 30 and Draymond Green at 35. They already had the Splash Brothers.
- … And The NBA Draft Is Poker
There are two things you want in poker: Premium hands and outs. The smarter Eskin alluded to this in his argument with dad. It’s a perfect analogy. Top picks in the draft are similar to premium hands in poker. Hence, why the tanking strategy has it’s merits. What Hinkie has also done is load up on later picks giving the Sixers lots of “outs” to fill the roster. They may get lucky, too, and find a Tony Parker, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan or Danny Green in he late 1st or 2nd round. These picks individually have very little value but in quantity can increase the chances of hitting.Looking through the trades Hinkie has made, he’s won most of them by adding these long shot picks. He scooped two players and two picks for Spencer Hawes and by taking on Eric Maynor’s salary to help facilitate a 3-way deal, the Sixers gave up one 2nd round pick for two 2nd round picks. Surely, this isn’t anything incredible but it’s hard to see how either of these deals aren’t wins.
- The Salary Cap Increase In 2016 Is A Game Changer
The landscape changes and all bets are off this year and next as players will use 2015 to position themselves for the biggest salary cap jump in NBA history.
- If The Sixers “Tried” To Win, How Many More Games Would They Have Realistically Won?
What if the Sixers focused on winning? Maybe they keep Thad Young or Evan Turner and don’t trade MCW. What if they overpaid for a Chandler Parsons or give up some assets to get Thabo Sefolosha in a sign-and-trade? Maybe you are looking at a 30-win Sixer team? Is it worth it to be able to say at least they are trying?
Hopefully, the Embiid setback is minor. If it isn’t, “The Process” isn’t a failure. At least it’s different than the insanity of the previous regimes trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.