One of the most polarizing periods in Sixers‘ history was the Process years. What went into one of the most contentious eras in NBA history?
This is Part 2 of A Brief Summary of The Process; for Part 1, click here.
Sam Hinkie may be one of the most controversial figures in all of recent sports history. On the one hand, he rebuilt a storied Philadelphia franchise from mediocrity to championship contender. He took a roster devoid of talent and turned it into a citadel of high draft picks and All-Stars. On the other hand, he did this by intentionally lowering the quality of his roster during the year and by losing consistently for years to come.
With the 76ers recent collapse in the playoffs, many are stating that The Process didn’t work. That all of the losses and suffering the Philadelphia faithful went through was for nothing. However, it is important to remember where this team was and where they are now so we may no longer take for granted how beautiful and one of a kind The Process truly was.
Year two of The Process picks up at the draft lottery, where the 76ers were hoping to reap the benefits of a 19-63 season full of losses and trades. During the 2013-2014 season, the 76ers were the second-worst team, only to the 15 win Milwaukee Bucks. Despite this, the 76ers left this draft with the 3rd overall pick as the Cleveland Cavaliers moved up past the Bucks and the Sixers and were able to take Kansas Star, Andrew Wiggins. Luckily for the Sixers, though, one of the other candidates for the top pick fell to the Sixers at 3. With the Bucks drafting Jabari Parker, the Sixers, on June 26th, 2014, got to draft the living embodiment of The Process in Joel Embiiid.
With the Joel Embiid pick, The Process was technically a success in accomplishing what Sam Hinkie wanted it to accomplish. With the Joel Embiid pick, Sam Hinkie officially got his superstar, despite taking two years to make his official appearance.
Next in the draft, the 76ers had the right to the 10th pick thanks to the Jrue Holiday trade with the Pelicans from the previous year’s draft. Using this tenth overall pick, Hinkie trades with the Orlando Magic, sending the tenth overall pick in Elfrid Payton to the Orlando Magic in exchange for the twelfth overall pick in Dario Saric, a 2015 second-round pick, and a 2018 first-round pick.
With the rest of his draft picks, Hinkie decided to select shooting guard KJ McDaniels out of Clemson at pick 32, ex-Syracuse and current Detroit Pistons big man Jerami Grant, ex-Louisville point guard Russ Smith, and to late-round players from overseas in Vasilije Micić and Nemanja Dangubić, both from Serbia.
Following these picks, Hinkie then engaged in another draft-night trade with the San Antonio Spurs, sending Nemanja Dangubić to the Spurs. He did so for the 58th overall pick in Jordan McRae, a point guard out of Tennessee and the 60th overall pick, power forward Cory Jefferson out of Baylor. Hinkie then traded Cory Jefferson to the Brooklyn Nets for cash considerations.
These simple trades, taking players that had a low chance of developing into NBA tier players and trading them for other players with equal chance to develop, while also gaining cash considerations back may seem minimal in the grand scheme of things, yet as they pile up together, they only become more and more brilliant.
The next big thing to happen during this second year of The Process came in late August; however, some small signings happened leading up to this. On July 24th, 2014, the Sixers signed Pierre Jackson, who never played, and on August 12th, the Sixers signed Ronald Roberts, who also never played a game for the Sixers.
In late August, on the 23rd, Hinkie’s pile of draft picks grew in a three-team trade, acquiring the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 1st round pick. The Sixers also acquired Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved from the Timberwolves. In this trade, the Cavaliers received Kevin Love from the Timberwolves, and the Timberwolves received Thaddeus Young from Philadelphia and Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett from the Cavaliers. This trade was one of the dominos that fell in order to create a team in Cleveland for LeBron’s return and eventual championship for the city of Cleveland.
A few days later, the 76ers traded a trade exception and a 2015 second-round pick that would never convey to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Hasheem Thabeet and cash considerations.
The next few trades were focused on gaining more second-round picks. Later in the year, on September 27th, Hinkie traded a second-round pick that would never be conveyed to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Keith Bogans and a 2018 second-round pick. Next, on October 24th, 2014, Philly sent Casper Ware to the Brooklyn Nets for Marquis Teague and a 2019 second-round pick. The final trade of the second-round pick pursuit happened on October 28th, 2014, when Arnett Moultrie was sent from Philadelphia to the Knicks in exchange for Travis Outlaw, a 2018 second-round pick, and a 2019 second-round pick.
Within these trades, Sam Hinkie continuously grew the Sixers treasure chest of second-round picks in order to continue and get more chances at drafting players who would remain cheap and under team control while they developed.
On November 15th, 2014, the Sixers signed one of the best Process Era Sixers of all time when they agreed to a four-year contract for former undrafted and former Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington. Covington has been one of the best defenders in the league over the last four years, having once even making the NBA All-Defensive Team. Covington was one of the biggest staples of the Sixers during The Process, and Covington was one of the main pieces used in the Jimmy Butler trade.
In December 2014, the 76ers completed two different trades. The first came on December 10th, when the Sixers sent Brandon Davies, a 2018 second-round pick, and an eventual second-round pick that wouldn’t convey in exchange for Jorge Gutierrez, Andrei Kirilenko, a 2018 second-round pick, and a 2020 second-round pick. The second trade happened on December 19th, where the Sixers received Sergei Lishouk and a 2015 second-round pick from the Houston Rockets and Ronny Turiaf from the Minnesota Timberwolves. In this trade, the Rockets received Alexey Shved from the Sixers and Corey Brewer from the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves got a 2015 second-round pick and Troy Daniels and a 2016 second-round pick that was never conveyed.
The next trade came in the new year when on January 7th, 2015, the Sixers sent Sergei Lishouk to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cenk Akyol, Jared Cunningham, and cash considerations.
In these three trades from December to January, the 76ers gained three second-round picks and cash considerations while losing basically nothing. This is what The Process was about, turning nothing into something by gaining draft picks and taking every potential avenue for long-term improvement.
This brings us to the trade deadline on February 19th, 2015, where the 76ers executed three trades. The first trade came in the form of sending KJ McDaniels to the Houston Rockets for Isaiah Canaan and a 2015 second-round pick. The next trade was sending Cenk Akyol to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Chukwudiebere Maduabum, JaVale McGee, and a 2016 first-round pick. The final trade came when the Sixers sent the reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal that netted the Sixers an eventual 2018 first-round pick. On top of Michael Carter-Williams, the Bucks also received Miles Plumlee from the Phoenix Suns, and the Suns received Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall from the Bucks.
With this trade, the Sixers capitalized on the high value of Michael Carter-Williams. By sending him to Milwaukee, essentially fleecing a heavily protected first-round pick that was bound to land in the lottery at some point. This shows how well Hinkie did with asset evaluation and management, which was one of the key factors in the rebuilding process.
This was the end of year two of The Process. During this year, Hinkie was able to nab some very important key cornerstones. Hinkie secured the services of both Joel Embiid and Robert Covington while attaining draft picks that would set up the Sixers for the future.
Other signings from this era include JaKarr Sampson, Drew Gordon, Malcolm Lee, Furkan Aldemir, Malcolm Thomas, Larry Drew II, and Tim Frazier. Over the course of the second year of The Process, Hinkie made 14 different signings, 13 trades, and 7 draft picks.