When Sam Hinkie took over as the Sixers’ general manager in 2013, there was a very clear plan that was being set in place.
Tank so hard, and for so long, that eventually the team would have to be good.
It was a groundbreaking approach to the game of basketball, one that not everyone around the league bought into. Rival executives and the NBA itself were furious, eventually going so far as to booting Hinkie out of Philadelphia.
Ultimately, Hinkie never got to finish “The Process”, but he set in motion plans and ideas which are almost directly responsible for the few successes which the Sixers have achieved today.
Hinkie left the organization in a near perfect position, filled with young talent, tons of draft picks, and millions upon millions in cap space. Seeing as the Sixers are now a 5th seed with one of the most expensive rosters in the NBA, what the hell went so horribly wrong?
In this article I am going to list what I feel has been the organization’s biggest mistakes the last two years. Hindsight bias will be at a premium.
Going “All-In” Too Soon
During the 2018/2019 season, the Sixers very infamously announced they were “star chasing”. They were going all-in. The front office cashed out on all their investments and draft picks, doing whatever it took to land instant contributors, even if they were on rental deals.
The acquisitions of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris obviously didn’t result in a championship last year. While the trades made sense on paper, they left the Sixers completely stripped of assets moving forward.
Joel Embiid was 25 years old last season while Simmons was just 22. What was the rush? The Sixers front office gambled away almost everything in a year where their two All-Stars were barely of the legal drinking age.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “roster construction” thrown around 1,000 times this season, but what does it actually mean? Many analysts are quick to point out that Embiid and Simmons can’t play together, when in reality that’s not the case.
There are plenty of instances of bigger players succeeding together, even in today’s NBA. LeBron and AD, Giannis and the Lopez twins, etc. The difference has always been how those teams go about filling in the spots around their lane-dominant players.
Giannis is surrounded by shooters left and right. The Lakers went out and signed every possible “D-and-three” type player available this year (Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Markieff Morris).
While the rest of the league was catering to their stars, the Sixers were inking another center to a $100+ million dollar contract.
Doubling Down on their Mistakes
The Al Horford contract was a major mistake, there’s simply no debating that anymore. He’s posting near-career lows across the board and he’s a huge offensive roadblock for Simmons and Embiid. So why is he still here?
As gross as Horford’s contract is, it could’ve and should’ve been moved at this year’s trade deadline. For example, former All-Star D’Angelo Russell was traded for an equally bad contract in Andrew Wiggins plus a first rounder. That’s an incredibly cheap asking price all things considered. The Sixers very easily could have jumped in on that.
No Outside Voices
General manager Elton Brand is a former Sixer. Brett Brown has been with the team for seven years (and is family friends with Ben Simmons). Josh Harris has owned the team for close to a decade. Noticing a trend?
If you followed the Philadelphia Eagles this past NFL season, you should know just how important outside voices are to an organization. Even with a Super Bowl winning coach like Doug Pederson, the team struggled to keep things fresh and exciting.
The Sixers have been stuck with the same ideas, principles, and leadership for the last couple years. It shows.
The Sixers 2020 season is by no means over. They still have the chance to steal the 4 seed and maybe go on a sneaky playoff run. With that said, the 76ers have very quickly gone from one of the most exciting young rosters in the league, to now being one of the most boring and financially limited.
“Trust the Process” has long been the battle cry for Sixers fans around the world. Unfortunately, that same process that we all bought into is all but dead at this point in time.
As long as Simmons and Embiid remain on the roster, the sky’s the limit for the 76ers. However, clearly some opportunities were missed over the last two years.
*Check out page two below for some mistakes that either didn’t make the cut or I didn’t personally view as “mistakes”.*