| Drew Hallowell/Getty Images|
Though he's now officially retired, Allen Iverson
will always be loved by Sixers fans.
In addition to the lack of a star, the Sixers have had a coaching carousel since Larry Brown left with Randy Ayers, Chris Ford, Jim O’Brien and Tony DiLeo all manning the bench in addition to aforementioned Cheeks and Collins. It’s been messy in the front office with Billy King, Ed Stefanski, Rod Thorn, and DiLeo all having spent time as the GMs of the organization. There have been attempts by these general managers to get to the next level but all have fell short.
Stefanski brought in Elton Brand expecting him to put up numbers similar to his days with the Los Angeles Clippers, that didn’t happen. Thorn was the primary mind that orchestrated the Sixers end of the four-team trade that landed the Sixers Andrew Bynum, and we all know how that turned out. With all the brief stints of coaches and GMs, but rosters that have enough talent to win 35-45 games, the Sixers have been trapped in mediocrity for almost a decade.
Purgatory is the last place any NBA team should want to be. In the Eastern Conference 35-45 wins year after year has been good enough to make the playoffs most years but all that’s led to is a first round exit for the Sixers, excluding the 2012 playoff series in which the Sixers were eighth in the East and thanks to Derrick Rose’s unfortunate ACL injury were able to beat the Bulls in the first round. With that I say, enter Sam Hinkie.
| Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports|
Hinkie is the orchestrator behind
the long-term rebuild of the Sixers.
Unlike his predecessors Hinkie has a long-term plan in place to build the Sixers to become a contender. This summer Hinkie blew up the Sixers roster leaving only Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, and Lavoy Allen from the 2011-2012 team that was one game from the Eastern Conference Finals. But based on the fact that even last year with their supposed franchise face out for the year, the Sixers won 34 games which did not qualify for the playoffs but they remained in the middle with almost no chance at getting a high lottery pick and ended up with the 11th overall selection in last year’s draft, I believe Hinkie had no choice but to blow it up. In letting Bynum walk, trading All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and a future first-round pick, and drafting Michael Carter-Williams at 11, Hinkie has seemingly found the point guard and center for the future of the franchise.
While Noel is still recovering from a torn ACL and may miss the whole season, before his injury Noel was the consensus first overall pick in the 2013 draft so to get him at six and acquire a future first round pick was a good move for the Sixers even despite having to part ways with Jrue Holiday. It’s important not to compare Noel to Andrew Bynum, whose knees seem to be chronically injured. ACL injuries take a long time to recover from and at 19 years old on a team that is not intending to compete for a title this year, it makes no sense to risk the long-term future of a guy like Noel who averaged over four blocks a game in college and has a defensive player of the year ceiling.
Taking a look at the roster right now it’s up for debate that this may be the worst collection of talent on a Sixers team since the 1972-1973 Sixers that went 9-73. Now they may not be that bad but there’s a good chance the Sixers finish with the worst record in the NBA this year, which believe it or not is better for the organization long term than the mediocre records we got used to.
For a team like the Sixers that can’t attract big name free agents to come play in Philadelphia, it’s best to sink to the bottom of the NBA and acquire talent through the draft and what better draft to acquire talent in than 2014.
| James Linn-Rock Chalk-Pinterest.com|
Wiggins is the top prize of the 2014 Draft Class
filled with many gifts.
But even so, 25% is still a better percentage than any other team in the lottery and the 2014 draft is a lot more than Wiggins if the Sixers don’t get the first overall pick. Duke wing player Jabari Parker and Kentucky power forward Julius Randle are both potential future NBA stars in addition to more athletic wingers in Wiggins college teammate Wayne Selden at Kansas and Kentucky’s James Young, and power forwards Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh out of Arizona and Indiana respectively. There are many more talented prospects whose names will be called on draft night 2014, but I think you get the idea, it’s a loaded class and having two first round picks is ideal for a team looking to add a star or two.
In trading Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans, Hinkie did three good things. The first of which was making their own 2014 pick a higher one than if they had kept Holiday, the second was adding Noel who figures to be a defensive focal point once healthy, and lastly he acquired another first round pick which he can use to add another potential star in next year’s first round barring New Orleans is not in the top five of the draft as the pick was top-five protected.
| Australian Associated Press|
Brett Brown is the coach who Sam Hinkie
wanted to be a part of the rebuilding process.
After this draft night frenzy Hinkie took his time in hiring a head coach but found the right man for the right situation. Brett Brown had been an assistant in San Antonio under Gregg Poppovich for years and with a rebuilding team it’s the perfect spot for an understudy to one of the association’s best coaches, to take on a team of his own and be a part of the future.
To sum it all up, though it may seem like I’m the biggest advocate in the world for the tanking philosophy, I’m having a hard time seeing how else the Sixers can assemble a contender. As I mentioned earlier they brought in Elton Brand via free agency and he wasn’t the player he was with the Clippers. They traded for Andrew Bynum. He didn’t play a game. Even with Holiday last season it’s hard to imagine Philadelphia is high on the list of many free agents when it comes to desired cities to play NBA basketball in. So the only solution was to trade off the best thing they had and start the rebuilding process.
Sometimes in the NBA teams have to get really bad to get good and this is the Sixers way of trying that. Allen Iverson was “The Answer” and maybe Andrew Wiggins will be “The Solution” and while it’s a maybe and not a guarantee given the state of the lottery, I don’t think any Sixers fan has been saying “Maybe we’ll win the NBA Championship this year” since Allen Iverson’s prime had past. Sam Hinkie has laid the blueprint to build a championship caliber team. Sometimes it just takes time.