The 2014 NBA Draft looked to be a boring one. UNLV Forward Anthony Bennett was selected first, and that uninspiring pick may have forced many fans to tune out. Not too long after, the sixth overall pick rolled around and sparks began to fly. The 76ers’ new general manager Sam Hinkie traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel (2014 6th overall pick) and other future assets, transforming a dull draft into the beginning of a controversial Sixers rebuild. Hinkie believed in the draft and the rewards of it, deciding to strip the Sixers down to the bone and start over. Soon the Sixers drew attention from the NBA world as a team that seemed to be tanking, purposely losing in order to acquire the highest pick in upcoming drafts.
Sam Hinkie may have been the first to deliberately lose, but the Sixers was not the only team that were rebuilding. The Lakers, Timberwolves, and the Magic were similar teams that began to sell current assets to reap the benefits of future ones. The 76ers took a more artificial approach to the rebuild and the results are remained to be seen. Their trio of big men, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel, have given the fans hope but the rebuild is certainly not over. At this point, comparing Hinkie’s rebuild to others around the league will be a good measurement on just how successful the general manager has been in turning the team around.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers, possibly the most famous NBA team on the planet, are bad. Really bad. Possibly worse than the Sixers but they have acquired some interesting talent. The Lakers core is pretty similar to Philly’s, however their talent is much more spread out. D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson form an intriguing young backcourt and Julius Randle will look to impose his physical dominance on big men for many years to come. All that aside, the only player that is comparable to any of the Sixers three big men is Russell, and he has even had some developmental issues this year.
The Lakers have some talent at important positions, but the Sixers three big men collectively have enough upside to compensate for the lack of talent at other positions.
The Magic actually began their rebuild, signaled by the Dwight Howard-Andrew Bynum blockbuster, when the Sixers were supposed to finally compete. That massive blunder caused Hinkie to strongly consider the rebuild. On the flip side, Nikola Vucevic, who seemed like an afterthought in the trade, has turned into a core player for the Magic. Frankly the Magic are loaded with solid talent up and down their roster with guys like Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Elfrid Peyton, and Mario Hezonja. The list goes on for quite a while, but none of those guys are even close to have superstar talent. Therein lies the Magic’s problem. They have a lot of nice pieces, but not one of them stands out and get people excited.
On the contrary, Noel, Okafor and Embiid are each far more talented than any of the aforementioned Magic players. Again, due to the fact that the Sixers potential ceiling with their core players is almost unlimited, Hinkie gets the passing grade.
Even when you stink, you can still have rivals. The Timberwolves, if anyone, would seem to fit that bill. Both the Sixers and T’Wolves have started their rebuilds at around the same time and are seemingly always fighting in the top of the lottery for the top picks. The only problem: The T’Wolves are dominating the Sixers are their own game. Honestly, when Hinkie originally planned out the rebuild, he most definitely envisioned the Timberwolves current roster. With a first overall selection and the Kevin Love trade, the T’Wolves nabbed two future superstars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns and each of them compare favorably to anyone on the Sixers roster. Furthermore, guys like Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and Ricky Rubio add even more impressive talent to an already highly skilled team.
The Sixers are simply inferior to the T’Wolves the way the two teams stand. After this upcoming draft, the Sixers may look a tad bit more comparable but right now the best rebuild in the NBA belongs to the Timberwolves.
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