The 76ers are in a peculiar spot right now. The team is coming fresh off a 50+ win season just one year after winning only 28 games in 2016-17. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are becoming star players before our eyes, and the team has the money and resources to still add to this already impressive roster. It’s safe to say the Process is well underway and already producing results.
The process has been a taboo subject in some NBA circles. It’s drawn the criticism of the league for it obvious attempt to lose games, but has undoubtedly placed the team in an otherwise impossible position to succeed. The Sixers are better off now than they would ever be without going through the process.
But who is to main person to thank for this?
The first and most obvious name that comes to mind when thinking of the process is Sam Hinkie. Hinkie was hired on 2013 to as the next General Manager for the Philadelphia 76ers. He wasted little time in putting his plan to work. In May of 2013, the Sixers traded their best player in Jrue Holiday and the process was unofficially born. Hinkie proceeded to trade any and every tradeable asset the team had in an effort to acquire as many draft picks as possible.
It’s undeniable that without Sam Hinkie and his obtaining of so many draft picks, the team would not be one of the favorites of the East heading into 2018. But how did the team end in a situation to hire Hinkie in the first place? What preceded Hinkie and his process?
The 2012 Philadelphia 76ers upset the top seed Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, more so due to the injury of Chicago star Derick Rose than their play. The team lost to the clearly superior Celtics in the second round. Another subpar year in 2013 was enough to prove to the Sixers’ brass that this team was not good enough to actually qualify for a championship. After missing the playoffs, the team deceided to press the reset button and shake up the franchise.
The Sixers were a perennial eighth seed and won around 30 games a year, clearly not what is needed to win a title. The NBA has long been a Superstar driven league, and the Sixers were in a fight without any ammunition. In an effort to vault the team to the top of the Eastern Conference, the team traded their then best player in Andre Iguodala. As part of a four team block buster, the Sixers received Andrew Bynum in return.
Bynum was thought of, at the time, to be the league’s premiere offensive big man. The team hadn’t had a dominant post presence since Moses Malone, so it was easy for fans to get carried away with the possibilities Bynum presented. Despite a knee injury, the Sixers welcomed Bynum with open arms and seemed set on making him the centerpiece of their team moving forward. Due to his knee injuries, Bynum was to sit for the first half of the season, then join the team later on around the All-Star break of that year.
Time went on, the team kept losing, and Bynum’s knees never got better. In fact, he suffered a few setbacks in his rehab when his knees were re-injured when Bynum was bowling and salsa dancing. These antics, along with his absence on the court, were enough to prove to the Sixers they made a huge mistake. Already facing free agency, Bynum skipped town the first chance he could, never once suiting up for the team that mortgaged their franchise for his services.
After the Bynum disaster, the team wasn’t left with many options. They were back to square one, without a star player or any signs of promising young talent. It was now time to push the reset button again, this time in an effort to restock the franchise with top draft picks. This is when Hinkie was brought in to pick up the pieces and put the team back on course.
If you bring up Andrew Bynum’s name around Sixers fans today, you will be met with ire and disgust. And rightfully so, as the man took advantage of a team trying to get out of basketball purgatory. But perhaps there is a debt of gratitude the fans owe Bynum. By collecting a paycheck and skipping town a year later, he unknowingly set in motion the foundation of the process.
Without trading for Bynum in 2012 there is no 50+ win season. There is no Joel Embiid at Center and Ben Simmons winning Rookie of the Year. If Bynum had played, and ultimately resigned with the Sixers in 2014, who knows where this team would be now? It’s unknown how this team would look, but it’s safe to assume Bynum’s knees wouldn’t have held up and the team would again be left without any Superstar or any hope. So while Sam Hinkie takes the majority of credit for today’s Philadelphia 76ers, don’t forget about the unknowing contribution made by Bynum. Ultimately there are a number of people who have contributed to the current state of the Sixers. While Bynum’s contributions are small, they still can’t be dismissed when looking at how the process came to be.
Bynum was brought to Philadelphia to change the course of the franchise. It took longer than expected, but ultimately he did, and the Sixers are a better team because of it.
A Philadelphia native who loves sports, writing, and cheesesteaks – in that order. Being retweeted by Brian Dawkins remains life’s crowning achievement.