Trust the Process
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To Philadelphia sports fans, “Trust the Process” has become not so much a phrase, but a way of life. Recent years of failure and defeat have defined the Sixers. Since making the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference in the 2011 season, the Sixers combined for 81 wins from 2012 to the end of the 15-16 season, holding an overall win percentage of about 25%. 76ers fans have endured all kinds of messes.
Arguably the most painful was when the 76ers traded longtime star, Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets. Along with Iguodala, they traded Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, and a first-round draft piclk to the Orlando Magic. In exchange, they received former All-Star center Andrew Bynum. At the time, this seemed like a solid trade…then Bynum got injured. Again. And again (this time bowling). That November, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said Bynum’s knees had worsened since the trade, and Bynum was declared out indefinitely. Since training camp, Bynum had been firm that he would make his debut for Philadelphia, and had targeted the All-Star break for his return. After still not playing through the end of February, it was reported that Bynum’s knees had begun to degenerate. On March 1, with swelling in his right knee, he conceded he might not play by the end of the season, although he said his left knee was fine. On March 19, Bynum had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. He never played a single game as a 76er.
On May 14, 2013, the 76ers hired soon-to-be-GOAT, Sam Hinkie to succeed Tony DiLeo as general manager and Rod Thorn as president.
Hinkie’s first major move took place during the 2013 NBA Draft, when Hinkie traded All-Star point guard and Philly favorite Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for the Pelicans’ top-5 protected 2014 pick and Nerlens Noel. Hinkie also selected future Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams and Arsalan Kazemi in the draft. In August 2013, Hinkie hired former Spurs assistant Brett Brown as the new Sixers coach, replacing Doug Collins, who had stepped down before Hinkie’s hiring. Hinkie’s first year was marked with accusations that Philadelphia was “tanking” in order to get a high pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and the Sixers tied the NBA record for longest losing streak, losing 26 consecutive games in both the 14-15 season and again in the 15-16 season. In two trades at the 2014 NBA trade deadline, Hinkie traded veteran Sixers Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, and Lavoy Allen, acquiring five second round picks and Henry Sims. After the season, Hinkie traded long-time Sixer Thaddeus Young to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the Miami Heat’s top-10 protected 2015 first round pick, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Alexey Shved.
During the 2014 NBA Draft, Hinkie selected Joel Embiid, K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, Vasilije Micic, and Jordan McRae. After selecting Elfrid Payton with the 10th overall pick, Hinkie dealt him to the Orlando Magic for Dario Šarić and future first-round and second-round picks. During the 2014-2015 season, Hinkie signed D-League veteran Robert Covington to a four-year contract. Alongside Noel and Carter-Williams, Covington was selected to participate in the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge. In three separate deals at the 2015 trade deadline, Hinkie traded Carter-Williams and McDaniels for Javale McGee, Isaiah Canaan, protected 2015 first round picks originally owned by the Lakers and the Thunder, and a second round pick. In the 2015 NBA draft, Hinkie selected Jahlil Okafor with the third overall pick, along with Richaun Holmes and J. P. Tokoto in the second round. During the 2015 off-season, Hinkie traded two second round picks for Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, a future first round pick, and the right to swap first round picks with Sacramento in 2016 and 2017.
During the 2015-2016 season, the Sixers hired former Phoenix Suns General Manager Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations. On April 6, 2016, Sam Hinkie stepped down from his positions with the 76ers. Days after Hinkie’s resignation, Jerry’s son Bryan Colangelo was hired as the Sixers’ general manager and president of basketball operations. Jerry Colangelo resigned from his post at the same time, but remained as a special advisor to the team. A month after his resignation, the 76ers won the 2016 NBA Draft lottery, and the team selected Ben Simmons with the first overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft. The Sixers also selected Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz with first round picks that had been acquired during Hinkie’s tenure. After putting on a show in the NBA Summer League, Simmons rolled his right ankle during the 76ers’ final training camp scrimmage. After receiving an X-ray and MRI of the foot and ankle, it was determined that Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot, and was estimated to miss three to four months. He is expected to return later this month. To this point in the season, Embiid has taken the Association by storm, averaging 20.2 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game in just 25. 4 minutes per game. The only rookie to average more points per game per 36 minutes is the late, great Wilt Chamberlain. Embiid has embraced the Process himself, nicknaming himself Joel “the Process” Embiid. Embiid was supposed to play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge this and the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, but it was recently reported that Embiid had a very minor tear in his left meniscus that could keep him from participating. After finding additional swelling in the same knee, Embiid was shut down for the rest of the season, as a precaution. Along with that, Ben Simmons was shut down after finding no progress in his broken foot.
As of late, the Sixers have held their own, led by Dario Šarić. He is averaging about 18 points and 9 rebounds in his last ten games, which the 76ers are 4-6 in.
All in all, the Process has treated Philadelphians fairly well, as the future is very bright. With lots of potential and the present, and more draft picks to come, the possibilities are endless.