In fact, it may have cost former president Sam Hinkie his job.
Now that Joel Embiid has begun to excite the NBA, I have begun to see evidence of inputs marginalizing the risk assumed by Sam Hinkie in drafting Joel Embiid. For those who do not recall, Joel Embiid was a big prospect with little basketball experience with a partial year playing for the University of Kansas.
For a time, it appeared as though Joel Embiid might not play again. After all, he had stress fractures in his back, a high risk Naviscular bone fracture in his foot (which required two surgeries and two years rehab to repair), and was a young man who was very far from home and who suffered the tragic loss of his brother.
Oct 8, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie (R) talks with chief executive officer Scott O
Not Odd For An Odds-Maker
Ergo, the drafting of Jahlil Okafor to “hedge” the delay of Embiid’s arrival, and to fill the vacuum if he did not rehab enough to play again.
What many fail to understand is the logic behind Sam Hinkie’s transactions. He respected odds, random forces of the NBA, and so he “stacked” the deck time and again to thwart those odds. He did so in each NBA draft in which he participated. He used his selection in the draft to deal with latter selecting teams, in the process getting the player he coveted as well as additional draft picks.
But so much focus on just one player? Despite the social media acceptance today, it was ridiculed on a daily basis throughout the ordeal. It came down to Hinkie’s belief in the potential of Embiid, as well as the significance to any NBA franchise to find that one special player. To Hinkie, Embiid was that one special player. The challenge? He only had workout tapes and analytics charts to confirm his belief.
Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts as time winds down on a victory against the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
In fact, in just ten NBA games, he is delivering far better than expected. At 18.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1.1 assists and 0.5 steals per game, he is leading the team in a number of categories. Only his 3.9 turnovers stand out negatively, but he has been improving in that area, running just 2.0 turnovers in his last three games. So far, he is doing all of this on just 22.2 minutes per game.
But while the team is turning the corner now, it is a slow climb out of the valley. Joel Embiid is just ten games into his NBA career. His teammate, Dario Saric, has 14 games under his belt. 2016 NBA Draft top selection Ben Simmons has yet to play his first NBA game.
Jul 12, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) dribbles the ball during an NBA Summer League game against the Golden State Warriors at Thomas & Mack Center. Golden State won the game 85-77. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Rest Of The Story
A typical NBA team earns one first round and one second round draft pick each year. That trickle of talent is designed to help NBA teams churn through retiring or disappointing veterans, and add new prospects. The better the team, the less promising slot in the draft. The odds for landing a top pick is not good even for the worst team in the NBA (just 25%), and finding a franchise player is even less likely.