Why Should We Trust The Process? It Hasn’t Worked Yet

Chris Tremoglie, Managing Editor

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Recently, there has been much enthusiasm about the play of the Philadelphia 76ers. Given the pits of hell the team was in the past several years, the mere presence of this article demonstrates that. The Sixers are almost, sort of, relevant again. With this, there has been a jump in excitement of your Philadelphia 76ers.

Given that they are still one of the worst teams in the NBA and 14 games under .500 (at the time this article was written), the fact that there is any enthusiasm shows just how bad the 76ers have been as a franchise recently. However, with 21 wins already, and already more than doubling their pitiful win total from last season, amazingly, there is hype for this team.

With the emergence of Joel Embiid, the fans of the team have visions of glory in the future that they feel will culminate in a championship run. The common thought is the dread and suffering that they have endured over the past few seasons will eventually pay off and this season is starting to show the fruits of that labor. The thought is that this season, the Sixers are in the embryonic stages of success. They envision Joel Embiid carrying them to many wins and visions of Ben Simmons – who has yet to play an NBA game – being a type of Lebron-esque talent. This dynamic duo will be the result of the plan put into effect almost four years ago.

Come back to reality and join me, won’t you?

Nearly four years ago, Sam Hinkie was handed the a blank canvas of the franchise and told to paint a masterpiece that would lift the Sixers out of the perennial mediocre seasons of being anywhere from the 5th to 8th ranked team in the Eastern Conference. Such results provided nothing but average seasons and early playoff exits. Arriving with an avant garde strategy to build a team into a winner, Sam Hinkie gutted the team and began the process of tanking. The premise was that an NBA team could not compete or win unless it had premier talent. The only way to obtain this type of talent was through early picks in the NBA lottery and the only way they could position themselves for this objective was having horrible records. And so the Sixers lost games. Then lost some more games. And they lost, lost, lost and lost some more.

I was never a fan of the “tank” because while the idea seemed noble, the implementation of it seemed to have too many unknown variables. First and foremost was the ridiculous NBA draft lottery system where if you have the worst record from the previous season, you are entered into a lottery and do not necessarily receive the top pick. Secondly, is the risk of any draft that the player you picked will live up to their potential. Each draft is filled with many busts. Lastly is making sure that the player remains healthy and can perform on the court. The idea was to have bad records, get high draft picks, obtain young, premier talent, build a championship team. Proponents of the plan often said that the Sixers would be competing in “2 to 3 years, 4 at most.” It was a good plan, it was different, it had noble intentions, but…..

Here we are in the 4th year of the rebuild and the Sixers have accomplished….nothing.

They still have one of the worse records in the NBA and will not make the playoffs again (and it is virtually unheard of in the 4th year of a rebuild to have this lack of progress). Of their lottery picks, they have no bona fide stars or elite talent. The closest they have is Joel Embiid – a player who had missed 2 full years because of injury and this year had played in around 65% of games while playing around half the time of the games he plays in – precautions given by medical personnel designed to prevent injury and have long term health. In spite of all these precautions, he still managed to suffer an injury that caused him to miss about 15% of the season so far. When he is on the court, Embiid is a beast. He can score and defend and he has a charismatic personality that has endeared himself to many Sixers faithful. However, with his long term availability a huge question mark because of his health, what exactly do the Sixers have?

While Embiid has provided hope for the team, objectively looking at it, the team has accomplished nothing and has fallen well below their anticipated progress at this juncture. Four years in to a rebuild and all their draft picks have either been huge busts, mediocre or risky question marks with recurring health issues. With a plan designed solely with the intent to obtain premiere, young talent, thus far it has been a disaster. All the hope is being put into a player (Embiid)that has missed nearly 75% of his games.

Philadelphia sports fans like to flaunt themselves as among the “most passionate and most knowledgeable”. Yet they constantly make the same mistakes of getting behind fool’s gold. Currently it is the potential of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (who gets praised and has not played a second in the NBA yet.) Previously it was the “genius” of Chip Kelly. Additionally there was Sam Bradford – who was going to be the greatest quarterback the Eagles ever had based on his performance in 3 quarters of a preseason game. And before that was Dom Brown – who had 3 good weeks in his MLB career and was horrendous afterwards. It is abundantly clear that everyone wants to believe and wants to win, but what kind of hope exactly is this. The saying that has accompanied this rebuild is “trust the process” but how can you trust a process that is not working four years into its implementation? My prediction is that all this hope is fool’s gold with unrealistic expectations and ultimately result in the Sixers coming nowhere close to a championship.

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Why Should We Trust The Process? It Hasn’t Worked Yet