By Joe Giordano || Staff Writer
The beginning of this basketball season has seen the return of a familiar headline for Philadelphia sports fans: the Sixers are winless. After starting a deplorable 0-17 last season, the team has once again begun its season with a 0-10 start. While the team seems to be improving in certain areas, such as the defensive end, they seem to be stuck in quicksand in others. Now, a few years into the rebuilding phase, one has to wonder: are the Sixers moving in the right direction or did general manager Sam Hinkie run this team into the ground?
When Sam Hinkie arrived as GM, he began to undertake a process of stripping the team of its assets and beginning to stockpile draft picks. While this seems like a good plan at the surface, there are several issues with its premise. First, Hinkie began to get rid of players the fans enjoyed watching and put together a team that had no business being on a basketball court, let alone in the NBA. Hinkie traded fan favorites Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, among others, for draft picks and the “tanking” began.
With a team lacking stars or wins, fan interest is quickly dwindling. Especially in a city so loyal to its sports teams, Philadelphia sports fans aren’t going to be disrespected and support a team that has absolutely no chance of winning. Every single time the team seemed to turn a corner, Hinkie would trade away a key piece. Michael Carter-Williams, Thad Young, and KJ McDaniels come to mind as players the Sixers would seemingly want in their rebuilding process in order to build young stars around.
However, it was decided that these draft picks were more important to their future than these already-established solid players. Despite their always-high place in the draft, the front office always seemed to “waste” picks. Their acquisitions of Nerlens Noel (who would play zero games his rookie year), Joel Embiid (who has yet to play a game for the team), and Dario Saric (who has not yet come from Turkey to play on the team) seemed to be terrible picks and truly dismissed fans’ intelligence when they adamantly claimed they were not losing on purpose.
While the Sixers organization seems to be in shambles, there are some bright spots for fans to look forward to. The selection of former Duke center Jahlil Okafor (who is averaging 19 points per game through his first 10 games) has given the fans some sense of hope that maybe he is the guy they can build a franchise around. The question now becomes: are the Sixers still a salvageable product or are they too far gone?
While I believe building a losing culture is a dangerous path to take, the Sixers aren’t done yet. With lots of debuts yet to take place such as the aforementioned Embiid and Saric, the surging Noel and Okafor, and a projected top five pick in the upcoming draft have the Sixers trajectory on the rise. Whether Sam Hinkies’ methods have worked or not, this young group of players will give Philadelphia everything they have.
Sophomore Joe Giordano is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.