I want to be clear that I don’t think Sam Hinkie was a complete buffoon. He was given a horrible position to play from and decided that stock piling as many high draft picks, by losing as many games as possible, was his best chance to win. I can’t argue that I think that this is a bad strategy. I do think that doing it for 3 consecutive years is excessive and most team’s don’t do this because drafting picks can be, well, as easy as hitting the lottery.
Let’s go back to the ’96-’97 season when the Spurs went 20-62 and what is incorrectly referred to as “tanking”. The Spurs were already a good basketball team making it to the playoffs the last 7 years without once making it to the finals. David Robinson started the season out with a back injury and the team went 3-15. Bob Hill was fired and Gregg Popovich, vice president of operations, named himself head coach. A columnist wrote about this taking place, “Popovich’s ego may overflow, but don’t look for him to coach beyond this season.” David Robinson came back the day Hill was fired (coincidence stated Popovich) and the team went 3-3 before Robinson broke his foot and was out for the rest of the season. The team finished ahead of the Grizzlies and Celtics, but the luck of the draw rewarded them with the first pick which was used to select Tim Duncan and the rest is history. A further breakdown of that season.
I researched this because people use this example as why “tanking” is a great strategy. The Spurs already had a good team and Duncan allowed them to become a great team with a winning record in the last 19 seasons and 5 championships.
The Sixers were 35-31 in the ’11-’12 season and got past the Bulls in the 1st round of the playoffs before losing to the Celtics. The team was lead by Andre Igoudala, Jrue Holiday, and Evan Turner. Young players Lou Williams, Nik Vucevic, and Thaddeus Young rounded out the roster.
The following year the Sixers used their first round draft picks on Arnett Moultrie and Moe Harkless and traded Vucevic and Iggy for Andrew Bynum in a multi-way deal. They finished the season with a 34-48 record and trending downward. Let’s not forget the team also had the infamous Kwame Brown. Kobe’s take on Kwame (funniest video ever if you’ve never seen it). Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown were brought in.
The 2013 draft was a way to shake things up in the Sixers organization. Jrue Holiday and a 1st round pick was traded for Nerlens Noel in the 2013 draft, knowing he would not be healthy for the entire season. Michael Carter Williams was selected by the Sixers with the 11th pick and proceeded to win Rookie of the Year. The 2014 draft brought the Sixers Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, both of which were not available for the 2014 season. MCW was then traded for the Lakers 1st round pick in a multi way deal midway through the 2014-15 season. The 2014-15 season ended with a 18-64 record.
The 2015 draft brought the Sixers Jahlil Okafor. Other key moves this past season were getting shooter Nick Stauskas and Ish Smith. I’m LOL’ing if you couldn’t tell. The team finished with a horrendous 10-72 (the season isn’t over but I can predict) record. This will leave the Sixers with a nice chance at the top pick in this years draft. They also have many chances at various picks that is honestly too confusing for me to understand but you can see for yourself here.
As bluntly as possible, the current team has 4 NBA players in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and presumably Joel Embiid & Dario Saric. There are young players on team who could potentially develop but I can’t see other teams saying that they would trade anything of value. They have draft picks to get players like Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Dragan Bender, or Thon Maker. Your guess is as good as mine on which will pan out.
Where does that leave the 76ers? I honestly can’t say in a good place and neither can you. No they aren’t middle of the pack anymore which is a bad place to be. They have the ability to draft young players which is not an easy task. Lebron’s and Curry’s don’t fall from the sky. The current culture is sad as the fans don’t watch the team and for the last 3 years, they’ve only learned how to lose. Sam Hinkie will tell you that these moves take time and players need to develop which is undeniably true. To be happy to have the worst 3 year record in NBA history is tough to stomach. No shit, when you win 10 games that there is only one direction to move so it’s going to get better. Honestly though, how far away is this team from winning a championship? I hope I eat my words and they make the playoffs next year. I don’t see the current roster with tons of talent though after 3 years of tanking. I will say though, at least we are talking about them. I’ll close with this poll to get an idea of a high draft pick.