IN HINKIE I QUESTION

Posted by: Jeff McMenamin
07/29/13 1:55 pm EST

062713_hinkie-sam_600With the Eagles officially opening up practice to their fans at a packed Lincoln Financial Field yesterday, the summer for the Sixers in Philadelphia will go as it usually does, as team irrelevant.

As critics and media personalities might argue that this under-the-radar style is the best thing for the organization and that it adds to Sam Hinkie’s “genius” GM style, I for one am not there with you.

I’m as skeptical as I’ve ever been to be a Sixers reporter and fan, and there’s no reason why anyone should be otherwise.

I’m not saying that there’s no hope for this franchise and that the moves which were taken this offseason will further drive the organization into the ground, but I do think it’s time for fans to wake up and smell the coffee and to think about some serious issues facing the franchise in the future. A simple slip-up at any point could be devastating enough to cause irreparable damage.

After the jump, I’ll discuss what issues will pose the biggest problems to the teams rebuilding process…

No. 1: The teams draft picks

Five NBA teams passed on Nerlens Noel in this years draft and one thought his value was low enough to trade him, along with a potential lottery pick in next years draft, for Jrue Holiday. The Cavaliers who had the No. 1 pick in this years draft were willing to sign Andrew Bynum and his bum knees over drafting the younger and possibly elite down-the-road Noel. The Bobcats and Suns picked centers Cody Zeller and Alex Len respectively over Noel at picks No. 4 and 5, but why? Wasn’t it Noel who was being talked about the entire year to go No. 1 on draft night? Why were the Pelicans so eager to shop him?

Those are a few questions which already scare me about Noel. I’ve watched him play and agree that he can potentially be as dominating a defensive center as Dwight Howard, but I’m also scared to death that the Sixers may have traded away their best player for a player that never looks the same and a draft pick that could be outside of the lottery or just on the edge of it next year.

Then there’s Michael Carter-Williams. Where do I begin? I’ll just give you Adi Joseph’s take of USA Today, and a view (for anyone who’s followed me on Twitter @SixersBlog) that I came away with as well after watching Summer League in Orlando.

“Carter-Williams is 6-5 and long and can guard shooting guards, but his primary skill is passing. He has wonderful court vision but does not shoot or score very well and often forced it last season for Syracuse. That must change at the NBA level. Carter-Williams and swingman Evan Turner are similar players.”

Sure, there’s plenty of time for development here for Carter-Williams, but the similarities between him and Turner are already there. There’s a lot of negatives at the moment with Carter-Williams. He’s a lanky point guard who can’t shoot, he isn’t strong enough to attack the rim, he turns the ball over a lot and he often makes head-scratching plays on the offensive side of the ball. Go to the 8:55 mark in this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plP3GlYKFQU) and you’ll see how NBA teams will make Carter-Williams’ life miserable in the NBA, like everyone has seen already in Summer League and if you watched him at all last season at Syracuse.

NBA coaches aren’t stupid and the level of competition is obviously much higher. Teams are going to send doubles on Carter-Williams and trap him into making bad decisions on every play. He’s not strong enough yet to really penetrate defenses and his shot needs an ocean size improvement.

He’s a project in every sense of the word.

No. 2: Tanking questions

What if the #WinlessforWiggins campaign became #Winsformoremedicrity?

It’s a valid question. The Sixers can find a quality player to build around for the future with the top five selections in next years draft. After that it’s a crapshoot once again. For example Glenn Robinson III, who the Sixers were projected to take at No. 11 this year before he decided to head back to Michigan, is projected by NBADraft.net to go at No. 6 next year. Would you really be thrilled if he’s the best available for the Sixers after they win a few more games than expected next season?

Then there’s the New Orleans Pelicans. Couldn’t a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis conceivably win enough games to give the Sixers a pick outside of the lottery next year?

Really these things are not out of the question. As I said before, a slip-up at any point of the rebuilding process could be devastating to the Sixers future. You can’t force professional athletes to lose. You can try to assemble the worst team possible, but even then it must be carefully done because the goal is always for the future.

The easiest way to tank would be to get rid of Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes before the season, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. Those three players alone could win you a couple more games here and there that you didn’t expect and depending on the Sixers’ new coach, that could win the team a couple more games as well. Contrary to what fans believe, tanking for the worst record in basketball is sometimes harder than ending the season with the best one.

No. 3: Free Agency draw

Has Philadelphia ever been a destination for free-agents?

Outside of signing Elton Brand to a 5-year, $80 million deal, none stick out in my mind in the past 20 years of the franchise. Brand was also largely considered a risk to sign after a torn Achilles injury, so it wasn’t necessarily the smartest signing the team has ever made, and ultimately considered a catastrophe after the amnestying of Brand before last season. The Sixers also paid out “quality” FAs such as Glenn Robinson at the end of his career, Matt Geiger to 6-years, $51 million, Kenny Thomas to 7-years $50 million, Samuel Dalembert, Kwame Brown and Scott Williams.

Needless to say, 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 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.

No. 4: Tradable assets

If Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are the biggest trade assets for the Sixers, that’s a scary thought. Especially considering the rumors that neither were able to be dealt on draft night, even though Hinkie was making countless phone calls to front offices across the league.

If you can’t get good through the draft or free-agency, the other way is through trades. Besides future draft picks, which the Sixers need to desperately hold onto for the development of the franchise, the 7-6 don’t have much to offer. Young has too big of a contract for teams to take on, despite his value as a player. Turner could be a high energy guy on a teams bench to play defense, rebound and distribute the ball effectively, but as a No. 2 pick the Sixers expect to get more for him than most teams are willing to dish out. He also comes at a high price tag.

Spencer Hawes is a solid scorer and rebounder, and has an attractive expiring contract, but is widely seen as a defensive liability who is also too soft on the offensive side of the ball. He’s not the type of player that teams are exactly lining up to try and make a trade for. I don’t see him being moved this season.

As for Arnett Moultrie, Lavoy Allen, Jason Richardson and Kwame Brown, they’re all not going anywhere. Moultrie will be part of the rebuilding process, Allen will play out the final year of his rookie contract and Richardson and Brown are too old and expensive.

There’s a good chance that all of the above mentioned are still with the team during the entire 2013-14 campaign. Hinkie had his best shot on draft night, and outside of furious campaigns from Turner and Hawes before next years trade deadline, I see them all in uniform next April.

Final verdict: Risky business

All of the above reasons will continue to make me a skeptic. But as Drake says in his song “Over”,

‘Point the biggest skeptic out I’ll make him a believer’

I want to believe in the Sixers again, as much as I believed that Evan Turner could be a franchise player and Andrew Bynum could make the Sixers contenders again.

This Sixers team does have the chance to potentially be great if a lot of cards fall into place. Being very bad is first and getting a little luck is second. Nerlens Noel could potentially become a Dwight Howard-like dominating defensive force; Michael Carter-Williams could gain 30 pounds, find a shot and become the second-coming of Anfernee Hardaway; the Sixers could pick Andrew Wiggins at No. 1 next year; top-tier free-agents could want to play with these guys; Brett Brown could become coach and bring coach Pops’ winning ways to Philly, etc. etc.

Bottom line is there’s the potential for greatness, but the Sixers are far from that point where they currently stand. Say some prayers, have your good luck charms handy, do some good deeds and maybe just maybe the basketball gods will send some good fortune towards the red, white and blue. But, I’m never going to chant the phrase “In Hinkie We Trust” until I see some progress and results. In Hinkie I question.


 
 
 

6 Responses to “IN HINKIE I QUESTION”

  1. Jodie
    29. July 2013 at 14:23

    lol @:
    “Turner could be a high energy guy on a teams bench to play defense, rebound and distribute the ball effectively”

    more like turner could be a guy on a team’s bench who will bitch at referees every time he goes into a little bit of contact while shooting 2-10 from within 3ft of the rim and hitting only 70% of his free throws.

    dude’s game stinks almost as much as his damn attitude. but yes, he can clear boards pretty damn effectively for a 2-guard.

  2. Alex Hootan
    29. July 2013 at 16:23

    It is amazing how many different analyses I have seen here regarding what Hinkie has done since May. Every contributor has here has written with either glass half full or half empty attitude that Sam’s plan may or may not work.
    What is important here is the fact that Sam has a plan and he will stick to it and will execute it. Obviously, it is a Risky business since he deals with outcomes that will not be under his control. For example, regarding the next year draft, Sixers will end up anywhere from the best case (Wiggins from Sixers + NO’s number 6) to the worst case (10-14 from Sixers + a late first rounder from NO) . But this happens in any business, there is risk and there is calculated risk. I think Sam is taking calculated risks. (Look at Billy King with +100 mill salary caps next few years and you know what I am talking about here). The important task is to have the option of making the necessary changes in the course of action before the negatives pile up and Sixers end up either being very bad for a few years or reach some level of mediocrity. So far Hinkie has done the right things because the previous roster was not going to take this team to the next level. Holiday was an all star but he is not Chris Paul or even Rondo (take a look at his efficiency ratings).
    There were two main approaches for Hinkie to chose: A) Keep Holiday, and accumulate more star players like they did with Chris Weber and Elton Brand a few years ago, with no cap flexibility, and B) obtain cap flexibility and accumulate draft picks and undervalued players like Sam has done so far.
    Alternative A will in most cases, end up in a situation where the team value may be far less than the sum of individual players (e.g., the whole is less valuable than the sum of parts) and hence early playoff exits for years to come. Alternative B will most likely end up with a case where the team value will be far greater than the sum of individual player values (given a good coach and right teaching) . Of course with available cap space they will also have the option to modify as they go along.
    I think alternative B is the way to go these days with the NBA salary constrains.

  3. RYN_JAY
    29. July 2013 at 20:34

    Patience.

  4. Chris H.
    30. July 2013 at 10:40

    I agree with Alex. I see more and more that the media is taking issues with Sam, and that is their perogative, but as a fan, can’t you at least understand that at least, for once, there seems to be a plan in place. Yes, they will suck this year, which is why you allow MCW an opportunity to grow without concern while you continue to develop Moultrie. But look at the team as a whole. I think they were one of the worst teams in the league after Jan. 1st. The team hasn’t gotten better, so I don’t see where all of these wins are coming from. Just having Allen, Turner, Hawes, and Richardson is belief enough for me that the team will struggle to get 25 wins. The only question mark right now is Thad. I would love to keep him, but he might help get one too many unnecessary wins for the team. With the current make-up of the team, and looking at the rest of the league, I don’t see them finishing any better than 5th worst record. If they are able to move/sit Thad, then 1-2 worst record easy. And I don’t see (at least not this year) the Pelicans taking anyone’s spot in the West as of now. I think that they can still get us a 6-12 spot in this deep draft.
    Lastly, as for destination spots. Let’s look at the the Sixers since Iverson left (mediocre), during Iverson’s time (rumor was that no one wanted to play with him), 93-98, they were a horrible team (Weatherspoon, Sharone Wright for starters). So in the last twenty years, yes Philly wasn’t a place for a star to go, but with them getting good/great draft picks (a la OKC) they can grow their team and maybe in the next 3-4 years free agents will desire to play in Philly. The future is not as bleak as you think. As Ryn said…patience!

  5. Jon
    30. July 2013 at 13:36

    “Bottom line is there’s the potential for greatness.” This is the reason why everyone is so high on Hinkie. While Jrue is a great player, the position this team was in had zero potential for greatness prior to draft night.

    No one is doubting that it’s going to take some luck for this team to become contenders, however it’s going to take much less luck than it would have a few months ago. Did you have more trust in Hinkie, or Tony DiLeo? Do you believe this team is in a worse situation than it was prior to Hinkie being named GM?

    No one is forcing these players to lose. Maybe they go out band together Major League style go out and win a championship. Yay that’s the main objective isn’t it? This season should not be referred to as tanking. This season is truly about sitting back and letting these young players develop.

    Looking around the league, even with Thad (Turner and Hawes should not be considered players that can win a few games for this team), are there any other teams really with less game day talent then the Sixers. Andrea Bargnani was just traded for legitimate pieces, there’s no way no one will want Hawes. You made the case already for Turner. However, Hinkie didn’t draft him he views him as the player he is not a former #2 overall pick. He’ll probably get a type of trial run to begin the season to see if maybe he can develop as well, if not he’ll be traded for what value they can find.

    This team is going to suck, this year. But the potential in this franchise is very high, as you said. They have the potential for greatness. Whether this plan falls flat on it’s face and they endure more losing seasons, or whether everything goes perfectly this team is no longer in mediocrity. And I’d take that any day. In Hinkie I Trust.

  6. Steve Toll
    31. July 2013 at 00:10

    Jeff,

    Hinkie is the greatest GM to ever GM and you will bow to him his greatness. The 76ers gonna win 5 championships before 2020 and you will be forever shamed

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