Patience, a word seldom use in sports, but under Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Sam Hinkie patience has been the franchises motto since he took over in 2013. Patience and “Trust the process”is something Philly fans quote almost like members of a cult. What exactly does that mean and what is Sam Hinkie’s process leading the 76ers too?
In order to understand where the 76ers are trying to go to you have to look at where the 76ers were before Sam Hinkie took over. Go back four long seasons ago the 76ers just had what at the time looked like there best off season since the 1980’s. A three team mega trade that centered around 6ers defensive ace Andre Iguodala going to Denver, Orlando Magic All-NBA center Dwight Howard going to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Lakers Center Andrew Bynum going to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Teaming Andrew Bynum with emerging young point guard Jrue Holiday, promising young guard Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and shooter Jason Richardson brought over from Orlando the 76ers looked to be a team that would contend in the East. Whatever promise and hope Philadelphia had soon turned into despair as a potential franchise changing move turned into a disaster, Andrew Bynum didn’t appear in one game for the 76ers that season and made more headlines off the court than on it, Evan Turners development also didn’t progress the way the team hope leaving the 76ers in a place no NBA team wants to be in not good enough to contend but not bad enough to bottom out.
Following that season the 76ers fired head coach Doug Collins, who also had control of Basketball Operations, and replaced him with Sam Hinkie. Almost immediately Hinkie went to work trading all-star Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for the 6th pick, he would use that pick to draft talented but injured Kentucky big Nerlens Noel, and with the 11th pick that year he would draft Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, and with that the era of Hinkie was born.
The idea from the start has always been to obtain assets while continuing to look for that superstar player every team needs whether it’s via trade the draft or free agency. Picking Joel Embiid and Dario Saric in last year’s draft, both of whom have yet to suit up for Philly Embiid because of injuries Saric because of his contact with his European team, are moves that show you Hinkie’s patience and draft model of taking the best player available regardless of injuries or contracts. Moves like trading talented point guard Michael Carter-Williams for future assets show you how much Hinkie and coach Brett Brown value team building and fit in the system Coach Brown has in place. Carter-Williams for all his talent was not the kind of point guard the 76ers wanted to build around so they traded him.
This off season has been no different for Sam Hinkie, in the NBA draft he grabbed Jahlil Okafor who he believed was the best player available despite the fact that he plays the same position as prized big Joel Embiid.
While this does create a potential issue when Embiid is able to get on the court, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as both are looked at as major assets and can be flipped for a great return. Hinkie hasn’t stopped there, this off season he traded with the Sacramento Kings for last season’s lottery pick Nik Stauskas, a future first round pick, and the right to swap picks in two future drafts while absorbing the contracts of Carl Landry and Jason Thompson for what should turn out to be a non-impact player.
While most teams are trying to get better here and now Sam Hinkie is focused on the long term success of this franchise. Trading players who don’t fit, taking on bad contracts attached to future picks or young players, drafting the best player available despite the potential logjam it could create, all of this is done with goal in mind. Practicing patience and trusting the process is the plan, turning this team from a team not good enough with a very bleak future, to a fun young team with tons of assets cap space and promising young players is all part of the plan, turning those things into a contender is hopefully the end game. For now all the Philadelphia 76ers hopefuls can do is trust the process.