Monday, December 28, 2015

A Declaration of Sixers-Hood


The plan known as "The Process" by which the Philadelphia 76ers basketball club is attempting to rebuild itself is contingent on acquiring and developing as much cheap young talent as possible while not worrying about wins in the short term


Due to the vagaries of injuries, draft position, the greed and short-sightedness of various NBA General Managers, the 76ers have focused on drafting "the best available player" in order to stockpile as much raw talent as possible.


Following this policy means the team has managed to draft a massive contingent of big men, some of whom have not yet appeared on the court due to contract or injury issues


While drafting all those big men, they have notably failed to draft a guard with a high-position lottery pick, meaning the talent on the roster is almost completely lopsided toward the big men and completely lacking on the guard side


It would seem to be implied in "The Process" that the team would be interested in developing the young talent it acquired in order to enable to reach its potential


To develop big men requires having men on the roster who can get said big men the ball


Big man Nerlens Noel seemed to be developing a solid chemistry with last year's point guard, Ish Smith, and their ability to work well together keyed the Sixers' late-season improvement.


It seems highly likely that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie saw the improvement congealing around the Smith/Noel axis and, worried about the possible loss of draft position if the Sixers continued to improve on that foundation, jettisoned Smith in the interest of replacing him with guards who would facilitate another terrible season and thus better draft pick position come June


A team without any decent guard play, which has resulted in a 1-29 start. While this has certainly cemented the Sixers' status as favorites to get the #1 overall pick, it has also potentially hindered the growth of players considered to be potential franchise cornerstones, namely Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, who look about as comfortable together on the floor as the Luke-Leia smooching scene in the uncut version of Splinter of the Mind's Eye. 


It seems clear that by sandbagging the guard position for the 2015-2016 season, Hinkie has sought short term dividends (higher draft picks) over longer term investments (getting his key players experience in laying together in a professionally competent environment). This profit-grab has resulted in a team so bad that the Sixers were essentially forced to hire senior executive Jerry Colangelo and assistant coach Mike D'Antoni, neither of whom seems to be a fan of the "Process" and whose arrival could conceivably scuttle the entire endeavor though a quick grab for a few free agents and "respectability".


By not retaining Ish Smith or really any kind of decent guard, Hinkie borked the team, borked the development of Noel and Okafor as a tandem, and ultimately borked himself.  And it's not like Ish was even going to be that expensive.

Since this was written, the Sixers broke down, got Ish Smith from the Pelicans (for two more of those precious draft picks than Smith would have cost as a waiver pickup in October), and promptly beat the Suns. Nerlens Noel had a great game. Nik Stauskas and Isaiah Canaan, freed from their responsibilities for doing anything other than shooting, suddenly remembered what the basket looked like.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum, damnit.
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