Sam Hinkie’s ‘Process’ was one of the most controversial strategies of the mid-2010s. The Process cam about when the 76ers, hoping to be able to contend for a championship in a few years, traded for 24 year-old star Center, Andrew Bynum.
Andrew Bynum was one of the more exciting young players back in 2012. The 24 year-old had become a first-time All-Star and made the All-NBA Second Team. He had averaged 18.7 points per game on 55.8% shooting, as well as 11.8 rebounds. He was an up-and-coming superstar ready to compete with Dwight Howard for best Center in the NBA.
Unfortunately, we never got to see that happen. Before the NBA season had started, Andrew Bynum injured his knee bowling and was forced to sit the entire 2012-2013 regular season. With a lot of their assets gone in that trade, and their only superstar now out, Sam Hinkie saw only one option left to get the 76ers a championship: The Process
‘The Process’ is a strategy where a team would lose purposefully season-after-season in order to receive constant high draft picks. Several teams have tanked for one season in order to jump-start a rebuild, but no one had ever tried it as the primary way to obtain assets.
The beginning of ‘The Process came in the 2013 Draft. Hinkie had traded the majority of his useful players to other teams in return for First Round picks, or early Second Round picks. Players like Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young were essentially traded for nothing but young players and draft picks. With the 11th pick in the 2013 draft, the 76ers selected future Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams. Now, despite being Rookie of the Year, Hinkie knew that Carter-Williams was putting up empty stats, so he was then traded for another First-Round pick.
Throughout the next several years, the 76ers drafted lots and lots of players with high First Round picks, and trading for whatever picks they could assemble with the players that would come in and out of the franchise. They eventually managed to assemble good a team and their constant lottery picking ended in 2016.
Throughout the next two seasons, the 76ers defied all expectations and made the playoffs for both of those seasons. By the time the 2018 playoffs came around, the 76ers surprised everyone by claiming the three seed. Their roster of Simmons, Redick, Covington, Saric and Embiid was looking like one of the best young cores the NBA has ever seen. Despite that, They lost in the Second Round to Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics in five games. In the 2018-2019 season, the 76ers Process had peaked. After trading for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in the middle of the season, many speculated that this would be the 76ers’s year to win the title. They made it back to the Second Round and took the eventual Champions, the Toronto Raptors to seven games, losing on a nail-biting buzzer-beater shot by eventual Finals MVP: Kawhi Leonard.
Embiid had left the court with tears in his eyes. Many thought they the 76ers would come back even stronger as Simmons and Embiid would get a year older, and they had a near superteam with Simmons, Redick, Butler, Harris and Embiid.
The 76ers had a very busy 2019 off-season. They traded Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade that got them Josh Richardson in return. They also Signed Celtics’s Center, Al Horford, to play the Power Forward spot next to Embiid. The addition of Al brought a new hype to the 76ers that they’d be a dangerous defensive team.
Their season, unfortunately, has been a disaste so far. 54 games into the season and Philadelphia is sitting in 5th place in the weak Eastern Conference. They did make a few moves to bolster their bench, acquiring Glen Robinson III and Alec Burks, but their starting lineup is the main issue.
Their starters are Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. All good players, but not on the same team. Out of these starters, Tobias Harris is the only player shooting above 34% and has shot more than ten attempts on the season. Their lack of floor spacing clogs up the paint, making it difficult for them to score, and although their defense is tough, in this age of the NBA, defense can only get you so far.
The biggest issue for Philly is that all of their contracts are very long and have just started. They signed Al Horford to a four-year $109 Million contract. They extended both Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to max five-year contract extensions. Josh Richarson’s contract goes until 2022, assuming he picks up his player option, and Embiid’s contract goes until 2023. Embiid is the only one who is earning his money in the starting lineup as everyone else has been a disappointment up to now.
Because Al Horford, who’s 33 years old, is on such a long contract and is unmovable, recent rumors have spread that the 76ers may pursue trading Joel Embiid this off-season. The 76ers had been rumored to be shopping Ben Simmons during trade season, so it is possible that everyone on the roster not named Matisse Thybulle may be on the trade block come the off-season. The fact that there’s even a rumor of Joel Embiid being traded highlights the failure of The Process.
The Process is supposed to get teams assets through the draft, and Hinkie stuck gold several times, but a championship seems unreachable for this team. The 76ers haven’t even made the Conference Finals to this point, despite having four All-Star caliber players on their roster at one point. Even if they had beat the Raptors that year, Tobias wouldn’t do anything against the Greak Freak.
Contending teams seem to have a pattern of not tanking. The Golden State Warriors drafted Stehpen Curry and Klay Thompson outside of the top five, and drafted Draymond Green in the Second Round. The Raptors contended for years before acquiring Kawhi Leonard, with their highest draft position being #8 in the Dwayne Casey era. The Boston Celtics were only out of the playoffs for one season after the Paul Pierce era, and are now back to contention. Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted 15th by the Milwaukee Bucks. None of these teams purposefully lost, and they all have either won a championship, or are in the same, if not better, position as the 76ers.
The 76ers revolutionary idea of tanking to acquire assets has proven to not work. Even before the NBA flattened the odds, teams still wouldn’t purposefully lose games to contend later. The 76ers had so much talent on their roster over the last two years, but it just wasn’t enough against the best teams that have had a winning culture for years.
If Joel Embiid gets traded, (which he probably won’t) The Process will officially be remembered as a failure. Embiid has been the face of the process ever since he came into the league. His nickname is literally “The Process” to honor Sam Hinkie. Embiid is young, but the rest of the roster (aside from Ben Simmons) isn’t. Embiid is either going to be traded, or will be stuck on a team with no flexibility and an increasingly lowered ceiling each year. The Process doesn’t work and the 76ers are proof. Tanking doesn’t win Championships.