Sam Hinkie Revisited

Posted by: Jeff McMenamin
08/01/14 2:42 pm EST

samA year ago, I penned the story In Hinkie I Question which examined every aspect of Sam Hinkie’s rebuilding plan up to that point and what needed to be done for Hinkie to gain my stamp of approval.

I broke down the story into four parts; the teams draft picks, the teams tanking ability, the organizations draw to free agents and the teams tradable assets. Based on the information I had at the time, I made an educated verdict on Hinkie’s plan and found that he was taking a lot of risks which had me skeptical that he’d be able to turn this franchise into a winner once again.

Now a year into his plan, you’ve seen the wheels on Hinkie’s long-term goals start to move. Good or bad, there is a definite direction that the team is now headed­­. With this in mind, I’ll re-examine Hinkie’s plan based on the same model of my past story. Has Hinkie gained my stamp of approval? Find out after the jump…

No.1: The teams draft picks

Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse – 2013: No. 11

What a difference a year makes. As we all know, Carter-Williams became the first Sixer since Allen Iverson in 1996-97 to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award last season. He was also the first player not picked in the Top 10 to win the award (No. 11) since Mark Jackson did it in 1987-88 (No. 18) with the Knicks.

Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals last season and really ran away with the Rookie of the Year award, winning 104 1st place votes to Magic guard Victor Oladipo’s 16.

Sure, there’s still a lot of flaws in his game and the Sixers’ offensive pace may have inflated his numbers a bit, but for Carter-Williams to come out as the 11th pick and outperform his draft class in the way that he did (even if it was a weak class) was impressive and commendable. Coming out of Orlando Pro Summer League last season, I thought that Carter-Williams looked destined to spend the majority of the season on the Delaware 87ers in the D-League rather than starting 70 games for the Sixers. He simply looked awful against NBA-level opposition, but then made a complete 360 starting with the Miami Heat on opening night. Regardless of if he ever becomes an All-Star level talent in the NBA, he’ll have a long career in the Association.

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky – 2013: No. 6 (Acquired in a trade of Jrue Holiday to New Orleans)

nerlensThe verdict is still out on the Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel trade, but you’re starting to see the beginnings of possibly one of the smartest trades in NBA history. With each passing summer league game, you saw glimpses of the dominating defensive force that Noel was before his ACL injury. He had 13 blocks in six summer league games and surprisingly was active in the steals column as well.

Many analysts have already pinned Noel as the dark horse to win next seasons Rookie of the Year award. He’s currently atop’s Rookie Ladder based on his summer league performance. If Noel does win Rookie of the Year it would be the first time in franchise history that the Sixers had back-to-back winners and the first time since the NBA-ABA merger that a franchise has accomplished the feat.

Noel wasn’t exactly healthy during summer league, missing games in Orlando and Las Vegas due to minor issues, so his health is still the No. 1 concern for the Sixers coaches and front office heading into next season. If he can put on some extra muscle by the end of the summer and focus on rebounding a bit more (his mechanics weren’t up to par in summer league) he’ll definitely be in the running for the top rookie award by the end of the season.

Joel Embiid, Kansas – 2014: No. 3

Embiid was touted as the top prospect in the 2014 NBA draft with the highest upside out of anybody in his draft class. A week before the draft it was released that Embiid had a stress fracture in the navicular bone of his right foot which required surgery. Questions surrounding the injury dropped Embiid into the hands of the Sixers at No. 3 and, while I’m not fully in love with the pick, it’s the pick that had to be done. Taking a risk on Embiid is better than drafting guys like Dante Exum, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle too high. For a team in rebuilding mode, you take the guy with the highest upside.

His same injury ended the careers of other big men like Yao Ming, Bill Walton and Kevin McHale (late in their careers), but then again Michael Jordan had the same injury early in his career and went on to become possibly the NBA’s greatest player. Embiid is just 20 and there’s no rush for him to return to the court. He’ll be eased back into basketball activity, much like how Nerlens Noel was dealt with this past season. Of course there’s still the devastating potential that he never fully recovers, but until that happens this has to be viewed as a great pick.

At 7-feet, 240 pounds many view Embiid’s ceiling as Hakeem Olajuwon’s, one of the top five centers to ever play in the NBA. A player like that comes around one every decade and that’s why he’s worth the risk.

Dario Saric, International – 2014: No. 10 (Traded Elfrid Payton to Orlando for Saric, Pierre Jackson and a 2015 first-rounder; pick was acquired in the Jrue Holiday trade)

If Saric was Hinkie’s guy all along, this was a phenomenal deal. From a fan standpoint, it’s upsetting to draft a guy who won’t play for possibly two more years (as he’s overseas on a deal with Turkish powerhouse Anadolu Efes), but with the incredible upside Saric has at just 20 years old, he’s exactly the type of player the Sixers want to bring in right now.

Saric was the Adriatic League MVP last season, averaging 19.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for Cibona. In the leagues championship game he scored 23 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and five blocks which displayed the type of versatility he can potentially bring to the Sixers down the road.

He’s drawn comparisons to Hedo Turkoglu, whose had a very productive 14-year career in the NBA. If he can come anywhere near Turkoglu’s peak years where he averaged nearly 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game, while shooting 40 percent from the outside than this would be a genius move by Hinkie.

Like Embiid, you can’t really judge this pick until several years from now, but on paper it made sense to take him. Acquire as many positive assets as you can now while nothing is expected from the team, and hopefully down the road at least a couple of them will play at an elite level in the NBA.

Second-rounders: Arsalan Kazemi, International – 2013; K.J. McDaniels, Clemson; Jerami Grant, Syracuse; Vasilje Micic, International; Jordan McRae, Tennessee – 2014

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ersArsalan Kazemi had a phenomenal summer league in Orlando last summer, but looked sluggish this summer and lacked the tenacity of a year ago. Jordan McRae was a beast in Las Vegas this summer, making the Second Team All-Vegas after being selected with the third to last pick in the 2014 NBA draft. K.J. McDaniels dropped to the Sixers in the second round, after receiving first round attention by most draft analysts leading up to the draft. He locked down No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins in Vegas, holding him to just 10 points in 28 minutes.

It’s unclear what to make of Hinkie’s second round selections at this time, but it looks like he may have gotten a couple steals out of McRae and McDaniels for the time being. Grant underwhelmed for the majority of summer league and Micic will spend his time in Germany until 2016. There’s a chance Kazemi joins the team later in the season, but after his poor showing in Orlando this summer that’s still up in the air at the moment.

If McRae and McDaniels end up starting this season, which there’s a good chance might actually happen, then Hinkie’s second-rounders have to be looked at as a success until proven otherwise. Some teams can go years without finding a quality second round pick and the fact that the Sixers potentially found a few gems in back-to-back years speaks to Hinkie’s evaluation of talent.

No. 2: Tanking ability

For reasons outside of Hinkie’s control, the Sixers tanking scheme may be in serious jeopardy. The NBA is pushing for a lottery overhaul to deter teams from throwing away their season and the Sixers aren’t happy about it.

The NBA’s proposed changes would give all 14 lottery teams a relatively similar chance at the No. 1 pick. It’s not surprising that the NBA is looking to punish a team like the Sixers who has taken the idea of tanking to new heights.

By not selecting first-rounders who can actually play in 2014-15, the Sixers have positioned themselves to be one of the worst teams in the league once again next season. This is a team who’s coming off of a 19-63 season that included a 26-game losing streak. Adam Silver doesn’t want other teams to join in on the glorification of losing, so he’s looking to put a somewhat end to it now before it gets out of control.

I can’t fault Hinkie for attempting to use the loophole of a broken system, but if these changes are put into effect I’m also not going to sympathize with him either. Tanking is a risky business model in the NBA and for his sake he’d better pray the changes are delayed before Philadelphia fans run him out of town.

No. 3: Free Agency Draw

Oklahoma City Thunder v Atlanta HawksI said it a year ago and I’ll say it again…

“No matter how much money Hinkie is willing to offer to the top free-agents in the next few years, Philly isn’t high on the list of destinations for most players and unless Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker are taken in next years draft, I don’t see the top guys wanting to come here. A certain type of player will go to a team simply because they offer the most money, but in today’s NBA it seems like the top talent goes to the team which gives them the best chance to win or offers them the best lifestyle both on and off the court.”

The Sixers have all the cap space in the world right now, but they’re sitting on it instead of making any sort of attempt at assembling a competitive basketball team. They might be waiting for a player the caliber of Kevin Durant (who’s a free-agent in 2016) to come along, but the level of absurdity that they’re refusing to spend is outrageous.

Right now, the team has $32 million in cap room — double what any other team in the NBA has. NBA rules state that teams must spend 90 percent of their salary cap on players in a given season, which works out to $56.7 million in 2014-15.

The Sixers are at somewhere between 50-63 percent of the cap right now, depending on what they do with their unguaranteed contracts. Where they stand, they’ll need to add $15-25 million in salary just hit the salary floor.

If the Sixers can’t hit the salary floor, they’ll have to divide the remaining money amongst the team. Hinkie will likely attempt to facilitate a trade at the trade deadline next February, to take on a large expiring contract in exchange for a future first-round pick, but there’s always the possibility of this not happening.

In other words, it’s yet another risky play. The Sixers may be building a shiny new practice facility in Camden right now to try and lure the top tier free-agents, but history has shown that Philadelphia isn’t viewed as a place where these types of talents want to go. If Allen Iverson wasn’t able to draw these players into town, I question the ability of Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel to do so.

No. 4: Tradeable assets

A year later, Thaddeus Young is still the biggest trade asset on the Sixers. He’s linked to the potential Kevin Love to Cleveland deal which, depending on what the Sixers can get in return, would be a great time for No. 21 to make his departure. Hinkie was able to get some value for Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen at the trade deadline last season (as little as it was), so I’d be shocked if he isn’t able to get something in return for the 26-year-old Young before the deadline this year.

When Young gets traded, that leaves Carter-Williams, Noel and potentially Embiid as the team’s most tradable assets. That’s a large step forward in the right direction than a year ago. With the new CBA in place, teams are looking to add young talent on cheap deals to their rosters and these are exactly the type of players the Sixers are bringing in. The Sixers really only have two bad contracts (Young’s and Jason Richardson’s), but both are likely to be off the books by next summer.

It’ll be interesting to see how Hinkie continues to build this roster and what kinds of trades he makes down the line.

Final Verdict: Improvement with caution

In many ways, Hinkie has impressed me as general manager in the year that has passed. What has stuck out to me the most so far is his ability to draft while shedding salary and acquiring assets. In all of my years as a Sixers reporter and fan, I’ve never witnessed a draft quite like 2013 or a trade deadline quite like 2014.

As unwatchable as the Sixers were last season or will be this season, the team hasn’t been as interesting as it is right now in a long time. In just a year, it seems like the attention surrounding the Sixers summer league games was the highest that it’s ever been. For Hinkie to get fans to embrace this losing mentality wasn’t an easy task and he has believers all across the tri-state area.

But I still can’t pull myself to embrace the man quite like a good amount of Sixers fans, bloggers and reporters in this area have. It seems like the Sixers are heading in the right direction, but history tells me to proceed with caution.

Remember the Sixers of the 90s? I’ll simply go through the list of first-round picks the Sixers acquired this decade.

1992: No. 9 Clarence Weatherspoon Southern Mississippi
1993: No. 2 Shawn Bradley Brigham Young
1994: No. 4 Sharone Wright Clemson
1994: No. 20 B.J. Tyler Texas
1995: No. 3 Jerry Stackhouse North Carolina
1996: No. 1 Allen Iverson Georgetown
1997: No. 2 Tim Thomas Villanova
1998: No. 8 Larry Hughes Saint Louis

Seven first-rounders out of eight who all, considering how high they were picked, were busts when it was all said and done. Stackhouse who was a two-time NBA All-Star and who made the NBA rookie first-team was probably the best of the bunch. They hit the nail on the head with Allen Iverson, but he’s the lone exception. This was a time period where the Sixers were trying to lose and acquire they best talent they possibly could but ultimately failed.

I’m not sold that Carter-Williams will have a flourishing career as a starting NBA point guard, I’m not sold yet that Nerlens Noel can stay healthy and dominate against the NBA’s top centers, I don’t know if Joel Embiid’s foot will heal the way Michael Jordan’s did or the way Yao Ming’s did. Will a top free-agent sign with Philly? Will the league crack down on tanking teams and cause a devastating rift in the Sixers rebuild?

Once again there’s a lot of questions which make it difficult to fully embrace what Hinkie’s done here in Philly. The day is getting closer where he’ll need to answer to his actions and Philly fans will be his harshest critics when he does.

Jeff McMenamin is a writer for Philadunkia. Follow him on Twitter @SixersBlog

Follow us on Twitter @Philadunkia


18 Responses to “Sam Hinkie Revisited”

  1. johnny w
    2. August 2014 at 21:43

    I think it is pretty weak they considering changing the draft system right in the middle of our plans. We were just playing by the rules in place, It’s like losing to another tennis player and complaining about his style play, making an excuse for losing because of his or her method of attack.

    Dang,it’s like they won’t give us time to succeed or fail…to me they are all sour grapes against Philly but if it was New York, Boston or the Lakers they’d call it genius.

    To the article I think any number of our recent draft picks could become a league mega star. Seems your selling our picks short a bit? jw

  2. Nick
    2. August 2014 at 22:42

    Excellent assessment. Still would have liked to see Doug McDermott on the sixers. Hankies, by the way, last played basketball in high school. Looks like an accountant. Not sure that is who you want to entrust your fortunes to.

  3. d1l1yd
    3. August 2014 at 23:36

    Sustaining what he builds is the question. Wait and see?

  4. Steve Toll
    4. August 2014 at 18:22

    1. With the 76ers “championship window” opening in ~2018-2019, I’d be shocked if MCW was one of the 15 best players from his draft class at that point in time. All he did this year was hurt the 76ers equity in the draft.

    Grade – F

    2. The goal was to have a 25% shot at the #1 pick in 2014 for the lottery

    Grade – F

    3. Since Hinkie has become GM, he has made 0 noteworthy free agency acquisitions. By design or not, that is unacceptable. A 50 win team could have been built in free agency in 2014, combine that with what was available this year and a “genius” like Hinkie should have been able to build a CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER

    Grade – F

    4. Hawes was worth more/something in the beginning of the season and Hinkie bricked. ET was NEVER worth anything despite the “positional security” he had this year and should have been cut before the start of the season, another Hinkie brick. Thad won’t fetch anything because Hinkie built a team to tank, so nobody is going to give up anything for a positive player on a rental deal now. Teams would have given up something during the 2013 draft (for a myriad of reasons) but that time has passed.

    Thad is a positive player making $9.5 with a player option next season and no real injury history. J-Rich is an expiring contract that probably won’t even suit up on a team looking to lose.

    Also, cutting Royce White was a mistake and outright dumb fwiw.

    Grade – F


  5. johnny w
    4. August 2014 at 20:10

    I have one more point to make…have a long memory. When ole Donald Sterling found out a dirty little secret back in the 80’s, that you can put a losing product on the floor (Clippers) in still make money in the NBA. Didn’t like him back then. Basically that was a form of tanking too, the league said nothing. No matter how you cut it the possibility to tank is there.

    Yepper, I was a big Doug McDermott fan pre-draft…looks like Chicago got the real deal…after all this is a game of buckets. jw

  6. MountainDrew
    5. August 2014 at 16:51

    Yo Steve, you wanted Embiid, we got Embiid. Y U still mad? a 50 team could not have been built, and even if it happened we would have lost our picks and not gotten close to contending. Thad might be worth Bennett and a pick, that’s a great return imo. White is way too much maintenance for a meh prospect who’s worse than Saric in every way. We got a pick for Et, better than nothing. You’re just complaining for the hell of it at this point.

  7. Steve Toll
    5. August 2014 at 19:51


    Hinkie likes to say, “process > result” and so far he has failed.

    I am a lot smarter when it comes to the NBA than you, I can assure you that a 50 win team could have been built last year.

    It wouldn’t have been the optimal thing to do, but it could have been done. The smart move would to have built a 30ish win team, then this offseason sign Lance+Isaiah n trade for KLOVE. Seriously, he is what the 76ers should look like this year and their salaries for this season: Thad, Noel, Picks get shipped for KLOVE
    $15.72- KLove (15-16 Player Option, Bird Rights)
    $10.00 – L. Stephenson (Signed through 17-18)
    $8.00 – Isaiah Thomas (Signed through 17-18)
    $6.12 – Robin Lopez (Expiring, Early Bird Rights)
    $4.00 – Dorell Wright (Signed through 16-17)
    $3.00 – Kosta Koufos (Expiring, Early Bird Rights)
    $3.00 – DeMarre Carroll (Signed through 16-17)
    $2.30 – MCW (Team Options for 15-16 & 16-17)
    $2.06 – Jordan Adams (Signed through 15-16, Team Options 16-17,17-18)
    $1.21 – Tony Wroten (Team Option for 15-16)
    $1.14 – Arnett Moultrie (Team Option for 15-16)
    $0.82 – H. Thompson (Unguaranteed through 16-17)
    $2.20 – J-Rich (STRETCHED)

    I am unaware that Anthony Bennett and a 1st rd pick was traded to Philadelphia for THAD, please send me a link.

    White was too much maintenance? They were already paying him and didn’t even try.

    Was the 2015 2nd rd pick from IND worth the damage that ET did to the 76ers lottery equity before he got traded?

    I am not complaining. I am clearly and concisely pointing out that Sam Hinkie has proven to be a fraud and as usual, I am the only one with a clue.

  8. MountainDrew
    6. August 2014 at 04:31

    It doesn’t matter that the Bucks were just historically bad, we got the most valuable prospect out of this draft, which is all that matters in the end.

    Core 3 of Love, Thomas and Stephenson? Eww. Thomas and Stephenson are major chuckers and you don’t know if we would have enough to trade for Love. Seeing as they are about to get Wiggins my guess would be that we would have to give up too much for it to be worth it. I love me some Lopez but your list doesn’t really mean anything, you can’t criticize a gm for not signing 10 players in one offseason to build a 50 win team. Odds are, many of those players wouldn’t want to come here (especially Love, now that he has a chance to play with Lebron).

    Notice that I wrote “might” be worth Bennett and a pick. Those are the reports right now.

    It didn’t matter how much money we payed White because we were WAAY under the salary floor anyway, the money was about to be spent anyway and the prize of that trade was Aldemir. White is a major douchebag with multiple unwanted kids and he doesn’t want to fly at all. He’s never going to succeed in the nba.

    Embiid + 2nd rounder > Embiid, so yeah, totally worth it.

    Oh, and we got great value for half a season of Hawes. Hawes was an unrestricted free agent and we managed to get Sims (who played very well last year), Grant (not a big fan admittedly) and Micic IIRC. That’s awesome value seeing as we werent going to resign him anyway.

  9. johnny w
    6. August 2014 at 19:00

    There is another feature to the Hinkiemonster’s plan besides putting together a championship caliber roster together. He is no doubt concentrating on a sustainable lasting WINDOW or a tenure of talent so to speak. lol Another words not just a flash in the pan, one and done or a one hit wonder…we talking a reign of dominance.

    Hope Mr Sam can pull this off, cause we like to talk smack here. Because of my job I’m often in different parts of the United States and have been harassed over my allegiance to Philadelphia, can’t wait till we start ripping folks. jw

  10. Joe
    7. August 2014 at 07:46

    Steve Toll,

    Weird how you’re grading Hinkie an F on draft picks when he drafted both Noel and Embiid, both of whom in the past you’ve declared the Sixers should draft.

  11. Steve Toll
    7. August 2014 at 22:15

    Mountain Drew,

    Your GOD aka Sam Hinkie preaches “Process > Result”, it’s interesting that you so willfully ignore that gospel.

    MAJOR CHUCKER doesn’t mean what you think it means. Lance and Isaiah had 56.4 and 57.4 TS%s last year. Of the 84 guys last year who had a TS% of 56 or higher, Lance was 19th is AST% (22.1) and Isaiah was 5th is AST% (32.2)

    Hinkie could have put together a package for Love that consisted of a combo of Thad, Noel, Embiid 1st rd picks, Euro’s and Cash. It would have been better than what CLE offered.

    Robin Lopez was given away in the Tyreke Evans sign and trade. Kosta Koufos was traded for Darrell Arthur and a random french guy with the 55th pick in the 2013 draft. Dorell and DeMarre were both signed as free agents last year for contracts well under their on court value, which is what Hinkie is supposed to be able to find. All 4 of those guys were available.

    Lance and Isaiah could’ve have been signed this offseason. Lance signed a super team friendly deal and Isaiah signed well below his real value.

    It’s hilarious to me that slappies like you (and most of the fanbase) actually think that the 76ers would be able to get Bennett and a 1st rd pick for THAD, keep dreaming.

    It’s interesting that you think so low of Royce White when Hinkie had the 3 worst character guys of the 2013 draft on the 76ers at one point last year.
    How do you feel about MCW and Noel, who based on what’s publicly known, are CLEARLY the 2 of the 3 worst human beings drafted last year?

    I disagree that the 76ers got great value for Hawes, believe what you want.

    johnny w,
    hope your patient


    Based on what was publicly available, drafting Noel was clearly a mistake. It’s quite possible that Embiid was the #3 prospect on the 76ers draft board. Saric is going to get clowned when he comes over and MCW is LOL.

    Process > Result

  12. Joe
    8. August 2014 at 12:01

    “Another thing to do, make sure at almost any cost, the team drafts Nerlens Noel.”

    “Embiid is the obvious pick, AINEC”


  13. Angus
    8. August 2014 at 22:53

    Steve troll has been playing to many video games to think that bringing in/trading for such a completely random team would have actually happened. Dont get me wrong (even though the apparent fan base is full of “slappies”) we could have signed numerous free agents and traded for many ?’s but in the end we would have ended up like the pistons now. They have signed and traded for tons of players and talent were not even a playoff team. Even in the east the raptors were not a 50 win team. We have been in full tank since the noel trade, which is much more exciting than being a 30-40 win team not getting past the first round like the hawks.

  14. johnny w
    9. August 2014 at 02:12

    Fellas fellas let’s talk about the ELEPHANT in the room and then apply logic too it. Hear me out, back when we answered the phone call from Mitch and the Lakers organization (beware of strangers bearing gifts!) dangling Andrew Bynum and old Dougey Collins bit and threw away Iggy, Elton Brand, Nic V and messed up draft picks Moultrie and so forth and so on, we all remember 2012 we were DOOMED, RUINED, DESTROYED set us back years!

    We were not going anywhere…future was bleak, sabotaged and hopeless a situation nobody could recover from.

    Why not tank for a couple of years and go with the Hinkiemonsters plan? I can think of no other logical thing to do with years 2013 and 2014 giving the stinking predicament we got ourselves in. jw

  15. steve toll
    11. August 2014 at 13:46


    You are a real idiot, seriously go away.


    Follow Joe


    Hinkie has failed miserably so far, isn’t that reason enough?

  16. MountainDrew
    11. August 2014 at 16:33

    I mean, Hinkie has done pretty much exactly what Toll’s been endorsing. If you’re really so smart, why do you change your opinion so much?

  17. johnny w
    12. August 2014 at 22:08

    Gentlemen, what I’m trying to say when we were played like SUCKERS by Mitch and Laker’s Front Office and fell for the Andrew Bynum bait in 2010. What was left was pathetic mess that set our SIXERS team back light years!

    I don’t think any of us really enjoy tanking, in fact we all suffer and loose our patience at times. Would be much more fun if the club was winning fifty games and we could have our chest out a bit. lol

    This is like new EXPERIMENT unfolding in front of our very eyes, It may even work which makes the league very nervous…IDK…these things have a way of working themselves out good or bad, no need for league intervention. General Managers will combat this plan if it works and if it doesn’t then nobody will be apt to try it again for awhile.

    Just know before I die I’d like to see Philadelphia enjoy a dang dynasty…we may not know how to handle it! lol jw

  18. Joe
    15. August 2014 at 07:54

    Steve Toll,

    I’m an idiot for quoting you? What does that say about you?

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