|Tom Ziller: Has Sam Hinkie made the Sixers too awful?
Philadelphia lost by 20 to the Bucks on Monday.
Is it possible that Sam Hinkie has stripped the team too bare?
As the Philadelphia 76ers were getting completely blown out by the 10-win
Milwaukee Bucks at home on Monday night, SB Nation's own Conrad Kaczmarek
raised an interesting question.
Controversial sports take: has Hinkie made the Sixers tank *too* much?
— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) February 25, 2014
In watching the Sixers fall behind by 30 -- they'd eventually lose by 20 to the
worst team in the NBA -- I considered the idea that an NBA team trying to be bad
on purpose could end up so bad it actually hurts the cause. Can you tank too well
for your own good?
There are a couple ways to look at this.
The tanking is so blatant as to invite league intervention
The Sixers roster is, at this point, Thaddeus Young, Michael Carter-Williams, the
inactive Nerlens Noel and a dozen fringe NBA players. Henry Sims, Elliot Williams
and Hollis Thompson are the Sixers' top bench weapons. This team is constructed
so unlike any other NBA team that it wouldn't be a total shock if Philadelphia,
defeated in 11 straight, ended the season on a 36-game losing streak. What team
could this squad legitimately challenge barring injuries or a bucketful of fluke
performances? The 2012 Bobcats -- the worst team by winning percentage in NBA
history -- could probably handle these Sixers.
However, there's no way that Adam Silver and the owners will intervene ahead of
the 2014 NBA Draft. So long as the Sixers actually field a team of players with a
pulse for the rest of the season and don't conspire with players or the coach to
lose on purpose, no punishment will be forthcoming. In fact, even if the league
did punish the Sixers for malfeasance, it wouldn't likely cost them a top-5 pick.
(They are basically guaranteed a top-5 pick at this point. If they somehow finish
with a better record than the Bucks, they can pick no lower than No. 5.) The
worst thing the league could do would be to damage Philadelphia's odds of picking
No. 1 overall, and that'd be such a major penalty that it's basically inconceivable
so long as the Sixers lose by the book and not by outright, game-to-game tanking.
But Sam Hinkie's not finished with his rebuild in June 2014. Most figure he's
expecting another high pick in 2015. The Sixers' exploits this season just might
get enough attention that the NBA Board of Governors decides to change up the
draft order process for 2015 and beyond this summer, which could impact
Hinkie's overall strategy negatively. He'll still get a potential star in 2014, but
perhaps that means he loses out in 2015.
The losing remains poisonous years later
This is The Tale of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as told by the bard Chris Grant. The
Cavaliers aimed to be awful in 2011, 2012 and 2013. They ended up with two No.
1s and two No. 4s for their trouble. In 2014, they decided they would be good.
They are 13 games below .500 and five games out of the playoffs. The GM who
orchestrated the rebuild, Grant, is gone, as is the coach who oversaw the first
The teardown went flawlessly. Hell, Grant tore down the Cavs much better than
Hinkie has tore down the Sixers. Grant turned cap space and J.J. Hickson into
Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng. Hinkie turned a 23-year-old All-Star point guard (Jrue
Holiday) into Nerlens Noel and a mid-lottery 2014 pick. For the rest of the roster,
with the exception of Young, who is staying for now, Hinkie has piled up second-
round picks and fringe prospects.
Grant got the Cavaliers losing extremely effectively. That was never a problem.
The trouble came when he tried to turn the losing off. Irving's growth as a leader
certainly seems to have been stunted by the years of depressed expectations. The
rest of the roster looks somewhere between miscast and overrated.
What Sixers fans would say is that Brett Brown, Philly's coach, is more well-suited
than Byron Scott and Mike Brown to handle this sort of situation, and that Hinkie
is a better talent evaluator than Grant and won't make high-profile draft mistakes.
To that, I'd respond: We'll see and we'll see. Hinkie's had one draft in the lead
chair (a total success) and while the reviews on Brown are good early on, it's way
too early to determine whether he'll be the right guy long-term.
At least one of Philly's core players of the future, Carter-Williams, is already
experiencing the poison of intentional putrefaction. Young might be sticking around
too. Can they handle...CONTINUE READING AT SBNATION