“The Process:” The Conundrum That Has Become The Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers had no choice but to navigate through their well-known rebuilding process led by former General Manager Sam Hinkie.

As the Philadelphia 76ers approach the halfway point of their 2016-2017 campaign and year four of their well-known rebuilding strategy coined “The Process” many critics remain of the Sixer’s master plan. Since its inception, critics have questioned the validity of the mass rebuilding strategy, citing its flaws and the disservices to which it has subjected both the Philadelphia fan base and the entire NBA.

To be fair, not all facets of “The Process” have been sensible, like signing a carousel of D-League-at-best players who would not likely last longer than a 10-day contract under traditional circumstances. Former team president and general manager Sam Hinkie could have surely formulated a roster of inexpensive, NBA caliber rotation players and still bottomed out in the standings to strengthen the Sixer’s chances at receiving the number one overall pick.

But while “The Process” has its flaws, there was no better way for the 76ers to join the NBA elite. In fact, they needed this rebuilding journey and were dealt limited alternatives. But why? To understand, let’s hop into the time machine to dissect just why “The Process” truly exists. Maybe even some Hinkie-ites, Hinkians, Hinkle-tonians or whatever playful derivative, could use a brief refresher after three and a half long, painful years…

August 10th, 2012. This marked the day that all 76ers fans could finally rejoice and cheer for a team projected to finish in the top three in the Eastern Conference after taking a big swing on the trading block. At least we thought.

If it still has not resonated, this was the day the Sixers announced the infamous Andrew Bynum trade as part of which the Sixers parted ways with Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless (who seems to be the forgotten man of the trade), and a 2017 protected 1st round pick. Just days later, fans gathered at The Constitution Center in Philadelphia to welcome the Sixers newest centerpiece.

Contrary to the skeptics, the 76ers tried the traditional path to sustained success in pursuing the Bynum trade. But Bynum never played a single minute with the Sixers. The Sixers took a gamble and struck out big time, setting the team back as far as a franchise could possibly fathom — unless you are the Brooklyn Nets with Billy King at the helm.

The 76ers were left with no star caliber players, little cap space, few high value draft picks, and they were not by any stretch of the imagination a free agent destination for a top-tier player despite playing in the fourth largest city in the country.

Following the 2012-2013 season without Andrew Bynum appearing in a single game, ownership brought in Hinkie to enact his rebuilding plan. Without knowing it, those faithful Sixers fans lining the Constitution Center were really welcoming the beginning of “The Process,” and on May 14th, 2013 Hinkie took office and “The Process” was officially born.

After the Bynum trade, adversity became familiar for the 76ers. The team battled through injuries to top players each year to date. Nerlens Noel, the 2013 No. 6 overall pick, redshirted a season. Joel Embiid, the 2014 number three overall pick, missed not one, but two seasons. And Ben Simmons, the top pick of the 2016 draft has yet to debut. While Injuries have likely extended the completion of “The Process,” its lengthened timeline has not turned the rebuild into a failure — Dr. J revealed the Sixers originally anticipated that it would take as many as seven years to become a formidable team through “The Process.”

Despite these adversities and the painful losing records, “The Process” should be viewed as only a success thus far. It has netted the team a budding star in Joel Hans Embiid, appropriately nicknamed “The Process,” and a generational caliber player in Simmons.

If there is any silver lining in the Simmons injury, it is that the Sixers are now better positioned to finish lower in the standings with a greater chance at the top pick to swipe up another potential franchiser changer (let alone two if the Lakers pick conveys). In September, Vegas set the Sixers over/under win total at 27.5, which was before the Simmons injury coupled with the Jerryd Bayless injury. Now, finishing with less than 27 wins seems likely, giving the Sixers a legitimate shot to be No. 1 come draft day.

In summary, it is unjust for skeptics to claim that the Sixers had better alternatives to Hinkie’s rebuilding strategy — the team was left with little other choice after the Andrew Bynum disaster.

It is also unfair to label “The Process” a failure, considering Hinkie’s goal was to collect stars, and although he is no longer in office, ”The Process” has yielded the Sixers those highly coveted stars in Embiid and Simmons with the potential of more on the horizon. The Sixers are well positioned moving forward in the Eastern Conference, and there should be an overwhelming sense of optimism surrounding the team. With their stars in place, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.

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