Sam Hinkie’s crazy ineffective plan for the 76ers
Sam Hinkie is entering the third year of what is easily the most interesting experiment in all of sports. The Philadelphia 76ers general manager has shamelessly traded away his most productive players, acquired as many draft picks as possible, and drafted prospects who cannot contribute immediately in an effort to keep Philadelphia at the bottom of the league.
Tanking, purposely losing games to acquire a better draft pick, is an often used strategy in the modern NBA. One ultra-talented player can single handedly change the trajectory of a franchise. Just look at LeBron James in Cleveland. From his rookie season onward, he turned the Cavaliers into a playoff contender, and when he left, the team transformed from a consistent 50 win juggernaut to the worst team in the NBA.
Hinkie believes that you cannot win an NBA title unless you have a superstar player. In a city like Philadelphia, which lacks the commercial appeal of New York or Miami, you can attain a superstar through the draft or through a trade. From day one, Hinkie has tried to put the 76ers in a position where they either have a high enough draft pick to select a superstar prospect or they have enough attractive assets to trade for a bona fide NBA star.
— BI Sports (@BI_Sports) October 16, 2015
In 2013, his first season at the helm, Hinkie traded away all-star point guard Jrue Holiday for the rights to sixth overall selection Nerlens Noel, knowing full well that Noel would miss his rookie season with a knee injury suffered at the end of his college season. In 2014, Hinkie drafted Joel Embiid, who would not play in his rookie season because of a foot injury discovered just before the draft. The 76ers’ GM then traded their second first round pick that year for the rights to Dario Saric and a future first round pick. Saric currently plays in the Turkish basketball league, and it is unknown when he will come to the United States. In 2015, Hinkie selected Duke superstar Jahlil Okafor who looks like the real deal but has yet to face the test of an actual NBA game. While other teams have found impact players through the draft, Hinkie has taken every step imaginable to delay a basketball resurgence in Philadelphia.
While Hinkie has yet to find his superstar through the draft, he has become a master of stockpiling draft picks. The 76ers have four first round picks in the 2016 draft. On top of their own pick, which will be very valuable, the 76ers have acquired the first round picks of the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
While a potential core of Noel, Embiid, Saric, Okafor, and four still to be determined first round prospects seems promising, the fact is that it will take time for a nucleus of players that young to become fully acclimated to the NBA game. Also, Embiid, Saric, and Okafor are still unknown commodities. They could easily not pan out at the NBA level.
The 76ers 2015-2016 season will start on October 27, and expectations are low once again. The team, as currently constructed, will struggle to win even 20 of their 82 games. The NBA is a business, and as Hinkie continues to purposely roll out a poor product, it is difficult to see why fans keep tuning in. His strategy may be the best way to turn the 76ers into a title contender, but Hinkie may not survive to see his plan come to fruition.
Does Hinkie’s strategy of purposely creating an inferior product ruin the integrity of the game? How long will it be before basketball fans in Philadelphia see their team in the playoffs again? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4