An open letter to Sixers fans: Trust the process

Process: A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

That’s the definition folks. That’s what it’s all about in Philadelphia. “The Process” was started as a way of taking the Sixers from being a team that couldn’t think about winning a title to becoming one that would continually be mentioned in the conversation.

So, let’s start with Sam Hinkie, who started all of this. After the 2001 season that saw the Sixers get to the Finals and lose to the Lakers, the Sixers never finished higher than fourth in the standings and only won two playoff series. They hovered just around .500 in the standings. Enough to give the fans hope and never enough to get any better. Poor drafting, coaching, playing, and personnel decisions, left the Sixers as a team that was just “ok” but they were never bad enough to get any of those really good, high draft picks.

Hinkies plan was simple. Evaluate talent and build for the future. Over his short, three-year tenure, we can all agree that he pulled of some major swindling of other NBA teams, with the end goal of having top picks and getting the team ready to start producing and growing together.

His tenure was short, because of the NBA and the powers that be. There’s no way you can tell me that they had nothing to do with Josh Harris’ decision to bring in Jerry Colangelo. If Harris had signed off on Hinkie and all of his moves and the poor play that went along with it, then why would he suddenly abandon the whole philosophy when it seemed that it would start paying off?  The number of picks that Hinkie acquired has enabled the team to get to where it is now. My honest belief is that had Hinkie been allowed to stay, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor still would have been traded, but he would have worked it out that he got some first round picks out of the teams that took them. Taking on salary and poorly performing players wasn’t a problem with him, he just wanted to accumulate his “assets”.

Now, it’s the turn of Bryan Colangelo. He’s the guy that everyone loves to talk about winning Executive of the Year. He won those with a Steve Nash led Suns team, that never won a title and with the Raptors, who in 2007 finished first in the Atlantic Division. That’s not saying much since the other four teams were .500 or below winning teams. They even lost to the 41-41 nets in the playoffs. Nothing he did with those teams really built them, but rather, he made some moves and the teams performed well.

Today, he’s the GM of our 76ers and what does the team have to show for his time here? Ben Simmons? He’s the result of Hinkies work. Markelle Fultz? Well, he hasn’t played, but the franchise wouldn’t be in the position to move up to #1 in the draft without Hinkie. He provided the ground work and base for Colangelo to really just sit back and succeed. Colangelo has failed. What was the return on Nerlens Noel? What about Jahlil Okafor? Nothing. The Sixers have Justin Anderson.

Where does that leave the Sixers at this moment? Currently at 24-24 and occupying the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, if the season were to end today. Nothing that Colangelo has done has helped this team. They’re here because of the building of Sam Hinkie.

Now that I’ve finished my history lesson and defense of Hinkie, let’s look at where this started. It’s a simple word, patience. As the fans have waited and waited, it may seem like a long time, but it’s really been just under five years since Hinkie took over the team and started “The Process”. Currently, the team has two of the leagues brightest young stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. With Markelle Fultz, hopefully, getting ready to return and become the player that everyone said was the consensus first overall pick in last year’s draft, that’s a great core. If you add in Dario Saric, the Sixers seem even better. But, there are still some players that haven’t been mentioned.

Robert Convington, since being acquired from Houston, has been the same player. He averages thirteen points and six rebounds to go along with just under two steals a game. That’s pretty good numbers for a guy that’s not being counted on as a star. Earlier in the season, Covington had a few really good games, and the Sixers gave him a nice big contract extension. Somewhere in those few games, the fans changed him from what he is into a guy that’s supposed to be a superstar. He’s not. He’s a role player and is being paid as a role player, in today’s NBA. Let the guy go. Stop talking about how he’s failing the team and not living up to his contract. He’s not going to shoot 45% from downtown and he’s not going to get you twenty points a night. He never has and that wasn’t the Sixers expectation when they re-signed him. He’s a role player and on teams set up as the Sixers are, anyone would be happy to have a good young defender that gives you that stats he does on a regular basis.

T.J. McConnell, is having the best season of his short NBA career. He’s an underdog. An undrafted free agent that the Sixers picked up, he’s played well and given the Sixers six points and almost five assists a game in his short time here. He’s a reserve. He’s an energy guy. He’s going to run the second unit most nights and as the rest of the teams second unit players develop, he’ll probably see an increase in his stats, but he’s never going to be your starter, an All-Star, or the leader here. He is what he is and that’s a reserve and backup point guard.

As for the rest of the team, there’s a few unproven players like Timothe Luwau-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz who haven’t really been given a chance. (Recently, TLC has seen some starts due to injuries and he’s performed well, but he’ll be going back to sitting with players coming back.) Justin Anderson? Another energy guy who can get you some points and rebounds, could play good defense and give the starters a rest, but he’s not going to be a star. RIchaun Holmes is a quality backup center, but he’s losing minutes to Amir Johnson and really, Joel Embiid who’s exceeding his minutes expectation each night. Holmes is another quality backup that’s here to serve that purpose alone.

What we have seen from Colangelo is that he brings in players that don’t work. He’s a Colangelo guy. Signed to a ridiculous contract for a point guard that averages three assists per game. He had his best season, prior to signing with the Sixers, and shot 43% from three-point land and all of the sudden, he’s the shooter that Bryan thinks the Sixers need. Except he’s injured and doesn’t play. When he does play, he’s a defensive liability and back to shooting 36% from downtown, which happened to be his career average. He’s a waste of money and more importantly, developmental minutes that a younger, more talented player, could be getting.

Amir Johnson is the same thing. Signed to a ridiculous contract, he’s here to provide leadership and quality minutes in a backup role. When he started 90% of his teams games, as he did in the four seasons leading up to signing with the Sixers, he still only averaged ten points and six rebounds. That’s worth $11 Million? Not on any planet or in any league for a guy that’s over 30 years old.

That brings me to J.J. Redick. At 33 years old and holding a 41% three-point shooting percentage, Redick was going to be the guy. He was going to be the one that could knock down all of his outside shots when they Sixers needed him to. He’s shooting 41%, just like his career says he would and not the 85% that the fans seem to think is necessary. But, he’s not worth the $23 Million that the team gave him on a one-year deal. He was set up and signed to be a stop gap for players that would develop in the system.

So, where does that leave the Sixers in terms of “patience”? Well, they’re not winning the title this year. They’re not winning it next year. But, in two to three years, they could be competing for one, if everyone continues to develop as they have been. With continued quality drafts and development, the Sixers should be ready by the 2020 season. That also gives the team the time to wait out the Warriors, Cavaliers, Celtics, Thunder and Rockets, as all of their stars will be declining, hopefully, and a new crop of quality teams will be stepping up.  So, why now are we screaming at the top of our lungs for players like Lou Williams and Tyreke Evans? There’s no need. Have patience. Williams is having a career year at 32 years old and Evans, while only 28 years old, and a quality player, they’re not needed here. The Sixers have their starters. Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Covington and Saric. That’s a quality starting five, that’s young and talented. Anderson and McConnell are quality backups. The team are not going to have five superstars like the Warriors, starting every game and we don’t need it now. Be Patient.

The Sixers, as a team, have been set up to be a winning franchise over the next ten years, trying to become elite and have the top tier free agents want to come here. But, they’re not there yet and Lou Williams isn’t getting us there. As a side note, Joe Johnson isn’t either, since he’s been the hot name the past few days. We’ve waited through thirteen years of mediocre teams and four years of really bad ones, it’s not too much to ask to wait a little longer. They’re already providing the city and its fans with excitement and hopefully playoff basketball this year. They’re players, Embiid and Simmons in particular, are the talk of the league among young superstars. So, why get crazy now? Listen to the words of the wise Sam Hinkie, wherever he is now and just be patient.

 

Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Born and raised in Fishtown, I write it.

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