The Arrival of James Harden Is the Next Step in “The Process”

NBA: DEC 27 Nets at Clippers
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 27: Brooklyn Nets Guard James Harden (13) argues a non foul call as the Los Angeles Clippers face off against the Brooklyn Nets at Arena on Monday, December 27, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Will Navarro/Icon Sportswire)

The Ben Simmons era may be over, but thanks to the acquisition of James Harden, “The Process” is as strong as ever for the Philadelphia 76ers. Many have been waiting in the wings to label “The Process” a failure at every sign of trouble that the Sixers have faced. The detractors are already vocal labeling the Sixers’ latest move, the Ben Simmons/James Harden trade, as another misstep.

Has this all been a failure? Is “The Process” dead? Not at all. In fact, the acquisition of James Harden is just the next step in “The Process.”

Sam Hinkie’s blueprint for “The Process” involves three simple, yet difficult to accomplish, steps starting with selling off any and all assets that have no place in the team’s future. Sixers fans saw that with the trades of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and many, many more. The reasoning was three-fold, acquiring more future assets, remaining financially flexible, and putting a worse team on the floor in hopes of a higher draft pick.

The next step in “The Process” comes the always difficult task of drafting a superstar. Philadelphia came away with a top-three pick four times during the draft years, only to find one legitimate superstar (Joel Embiid). The Sixers boasting a mere 25% success rate out of those four picks is frustrating and borderline embarrassing. Still, it was not enough to kill the process as one of those missed selections leads directly to the third step of “The Process,” acquiring superstar talent.

Sam Hinkie and those who truly understood “The Process” knew there would come a time when the Philadelphia 76ers would have to add star talent from outside of the draft pool. There was an early attempt at this with the Jimmy Butler trade. Unfortunately, that partnership was not meant to be for a few reasons. While it admittedly set “The Process” back, it failed to kill it.

The Sixers labored thereafter through the Al Horford and Josh Richardson year, and more recently, the Sixers postseason collapse when it became perfectly clear that Ben Simmons, once thought to be the Sixers’ second superstar, was not meant for this team. Daryl Morey has step by step solved all of those issues leading the Sixers to have another chance at the third step, acquiring superstar talent.

By trading Josh Richardson for Seth Curry, the Sixers were again able to acquire a superstar as they traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drumond, and two first-round picks for superstar James Harden. Say what you will, but there is no argument that Harden is at least a top 15, if not top 10, talent in the NBA. Harden has come to join Joel Embiid in legitimizing “The Process” at long last.

Everything Philadelphia hoped for after the acquisition of Jimmy Butler has a chance to finally come to fruition, thanks to Harden. “The Process” may have seemed dead, but with the addition of Harden, it has found new life.