04/02/14 9:43 am EST
He’ll never admit it, nor will the word ‘tanking’ ever come out of his mouth, but Hinkie wanted the 2013-14 Sixers to be bad.
Which they are.
The plan was to bottom-out, stock up on draft picks and build from the ground up. As the regular season moves inside its final 10 games and teams are jockeying for position, both in the playoffs and the Draft Lottery, the Sixers currently are in line for a ridiculous seven draft picks.
Those seven picks include their own likely top-3 pick, plus a Lottery pick courtesy of the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the Jrue Holiday draft night trade last June. Beyond the Lottery, the Sixers currently have five second-round picks. Hinkie isn’t likely to use all seven to draft players as some could be used as part of trade packages.
Whether or not you’re on board with all of this, it’s all by Hinkie’s design, with visions of a brighter future in Philadelphia well down the road.
Once you get beyond the recent 26-game losing streak, this lost season and ultimately this upcoming NBA Draft, the key to this whole operation is simple.
After Hinkie selects Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid or whoever this June, don’t botch everything post- 2014 Draft.
Once upon, not so long ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers set out to tank in the aftermath of LeBron James bolting for the Miami Heat. They pulled it off successfully, got the ping pong balls to bounce the right way and selected Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick in 2011 NBA Draft.
Irving is one of the League’s brightest young stars and, despite all the injuries he has suffered, is still considered someone you can build around.
The Cavs have seemingly done nothing right since.
They ended up in the Lottery again in 2012 and with the fourth pick, selected Dion Waiters. Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond were left waiting to be picked below Waiters, who to many scouts was a bit of an enigma coming out of Syracuse and has been something of a malcontent through two seasons in Cleveland.
Those two prospects were not enough to get the Cavs over the hump, so they again found themselves in the Lottery and again had the good fortune of getting the No. 1 pick in 2013. Their selection? To the surprise of everyone, UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett, who has had a mostly trying rookie season, averaging 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds while battling injuries.
Tanking did not set the Cavs back, post-2011 Draft problems set the Cavs back as they are Lottery-bound once again this spring.
That’s where the Sixers need to be careful. This upcoming draft, widely viewed as one of the most talented ever, may not produce an immediate franchise-changer, but the top of the Lottery is going to at least produce guys that can be productive over a long period of time in the NBA. That’s the easy part of Hinkie’s job.
The hard part is the rest of those draft picks, whether to use them or deal them. The hard part will be next season, when the Sixers are Lottery-bound again with Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and a 2014 draft pick leading the way. Following this draft up with another strong draft in 2015 will be paramount.
We’re not even talking about the laughable amount of salary-cap space Hinkie has and will continue to have at his disposal for free agents. That part of this process presumably comes much later down the road.
In the end, the difficult part is going to be not botching this entire rebuilding process as the Cavs have done. Hinkie can’t afford to, not after betting the future of this franchise on rebuilding plan that required gutting the 2013-14 roster and putting the 76er faithful through a season like this one.
Josh Newman is a contributing scribe for Philadunkia.
You can follow him on Twitter @Joshua_Newman.
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