After last night’s resounding/six point win against the stalwart/hapless Los Angeles Lakers, in which Joel Embiid, the human embodiment of Sam Hinkie’s hopes and dreams, put up an absolutely absurd statline, the Internet became saturated with takes and thinkpieces, most of which revolve around one central question: did the Process officially work? And while it seems pretty foolish to ask this after a November game against one of the worst teams in the NBA (who happens to start the league’s worst player at point guard), the Sixers’ relative success this season is certainly reason enough to take a look at the Process’s early returns. Due to the nature of everything the Process entailed, evaluating it in the moment seems a little counterintuitive. Considering that Sam Hinkie, a man the Sixers replaced almost two years ago, looks better by the day should imply that we won’t be able to give a final grade on the Process until the Sixers’ current core players are out of the league.
In my mind, the Process was always going to be a success, because the Process was conceived to escape the vortex of mediocrity that traps so many NBA teams and stockpile assets that could be used to acquire top-end talent, and they were certainly no where near mediocre. When viewed through that lens, with the exception of Jah Okafor, pretty much everything Hinkie did worked. Shedding bad contracts and veterans on long-term deals in order to game the system got them Joel Embiid, in many ways the most tantalizingly talented player maybe ever and Ben Simmons, the clear Rookie of the Year and someone on the road to superstardom. They kept acquiring more and more picks from other teams that couldn’t wait to get rid of them, with the end result being Markelle Fultz, who, while easy to point and laugh at, has obviously been injured for the entirety of his very short career and probably shouldn’t be legitimately judged until next year. Robert Covington was in the D-League and is now a vital part of their rotation. Ask anyone- a rebuilding plan is only as good as the players you draft. Embiid was the first Process draft pick. Anyone who ever watched him play agreed he was awesome. And because he gets hurt a few times and he shut him down for the good of the Process, Hinkie gets fired? Huh? That was so head-scratching to me at the time, and it’s only gotten worse since. How are you going to fire a guy for losing too much when his whole plan, that everyone seemed to be on board with, by the way, was to lose every game to maximize their opportunity to land a franchise-altering player. They now have two because of the Process. If you have Embiid and Simmons, if you just fill the roster out with average to above average role players, things will probably work out. I really can’t understand why they didn’t let Hinkie see his baby all the way through. If you want to blame him for Okafor, that’s fine. Jah stinks. But you better give him credit for trading two second round picks to the Kings for two first round picks. That trade alone should get him in the Hall of Fame.
I think this question needs to be split into two different questions. One is Did the Process work? The answer to that is yes. By intentionally losing and acquiring assets, the Sixers now have four top-three picks on the roster, two of which are going to be All Stars for as long as they remain healthy, one could easily get to that level if he gets head on straight, and one will be out of the league in a year or two. That’s a pretty good hit rate. The point of the Process was to use all the valuable picks they piled up to get great players, and they’ve done that. So, yes, the Process worked. The second question is going to be Was the team the Process built a success? It’s obviously too early to tell. The full team has played, what, three games together? While they still have the Kings’ 2019 first round pick, the Process is over. Now that they have a roster filled with actual NBA players, the Result is in the players’ hands. I’m very curious to see what they do with it.