After almost three years of the owners trusting the ‘process’, Sam Hinkie’s reign as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers finally came to an abrupt end last week.
Hinkie resigned after being offered to share his role as the GM of the Sixers with another body, namely Bryan Colangelo, who has since been named the president of basketball operations.
So after nearly three full years at the helm of the 76ers organisation, where does Sam Hinkie leave the team?
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His time at the franchise has been spectacularly unsuccessful, or as he may call it, successful. Hinkie’s plan was to turn the Sixers into the worst team in basketball for a number of years, in the hope, they would strike gold with a high pick in the NBA drafts.
Philadelphia’s record under Hinkie is remarkably bad, the team going 47-195 under his stewardship, and are currently the worst team in the NBA for the third season in a row. They were 10-68 at the time of Hinkie’s exit – now 10-70.
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But that was the plan all along, to stockpile assets and draft picks, something the team has done particularly well, and they head into this summer’s NBA draft with the Sixers owning three first round picks, and one second round.
Hinkie’s plan was not a huge failure, each campaign the Sixers have been able to use one of the best picks in the draft, however, their use of them can be criticised much more easily.
They have passed up on players like Giannis Antetekounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis, who both look set to be future NBA stars while taking more secure picks like Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor.
To be fair to Hinkie, Embiid certainly was a more ambitious pick, but it has not paid off at all for Philadelphia as now, at the end of his second season at an NBA team, Embiid is yet to play a single minute of competitive basketball, thanks mainly to two serious injuries.
Yet surely if you are searching for a superstar who you can eventually build a team around, why not choose to take Antetekounmpo, who is already developing into a dominant force, or Porzingis.
It is therefore ironic that Hinkie leaves the Sixers just as the ‘process’ may be about to bring huge success to the team, as they currently hold the number one pick in the draft, barring any changes in the lucky dip of the draw lottery, which could lead to them taking Australia’s Ben Simmons from LSU.
Simmons is heralded as a new version of LeBron James, and is projected by many to become a true NBA superstar soon into his career, which must make Hinkie’s sudden exit from the 76ers all the more painful, as he may now not see the fruits of his labour that he's taken a huge amount of criticism for from media and fans alike in the past three years.
Three first round draft picks and an attempt at Simmons are not only what Hinkie has left the Philly franchise with, though, as Noel, Embiid and Okafor are all hugely promising players.
The only problem for Philadelphia is that all three players are big men in a league where the play is diverting more and more towards small-ball and fast paced games each campaign.
Noel and Okafor are both more old-fashioned big-men, whereas, even though we have not seen him play on the NBA stage, Embiid is more suited to being able to fit in around this current way of playing. Therefore, it would not be a surprise if one of these three players was shipped away by new general manager Colangelo this summer.
If that wasn’t enough, the Sixers are also waiting on Dario Saric, who was acquired in a draft-day trade from Orlando in 2014 as one of the most highly-rated young players in Europe, but for now, the 22-year-old Serbian is continuing to ply his trade across the Atlantic.
Fans of the Philadelphia franchise should take solace in the fact they have many promising young players on their roster who, with some development, could become stars, and may soon be about to acquire one of the most exciting prospects coming out of the draft since Kevin Durant in 2007.
Therefore, there should be much for Sixers fans to look forward to from their team in the coming seasons, although, to be honest, it could hardly have been any worse.