Former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie began the now-infamous “Process” by trading away the team’s most promising young player at the time in Jrue Holiday. It’s already been established that Hinkie’s plan failed; however, the fact that Holiday won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks before The Process’s biggest prizes — Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons — have yet to make an NBA Finals appearance officially puts it to rest.
The Process was a long, drawn-out … process, for lack of a better word
Hinkie’s plan all along was to tank as hard as possible with the goal of acquiring a superstar — or better yet, superstars — through the draft. The thinking was the more picks Philadelphia had, the better odds it had at landing a franchise-altering player.
The night of the 2013 NBA Draft marked the beginning, but the controversial method continued for years.
The Sixers didn’t win more than 19 games for three consecutive seasons. There were losing streaks of 26, 17, 28, 12, and 13, according to The Inquirer.
Philly grabbed Embiid with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft. He didn’t play until his third year in the league. Hinkie resigned with a 13-page manifesto at the end of the 2015-16 season, but his draft capital lingered.
Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick the following year.
In total, the 76ers amassed seven lottery picks between 2013 and 2016. Philly also had the No. 1 pick in 2017, which became Markelle Fultz, and two more firsts in 2018 (Mikal Bridges — traded to Phoenix on draft night — and Landry Shamet).
Embiid and Simmons are the biggest prizes that remain, but the strategy’s first step has become a champion while the Sixers still toil away with drama-filled season after drama-filled season.
Jrue Holiday was the first to go but is the first and only to win a title
Philly’s first move was to trade Holiday to New Orleans for a 2014 first-round pick and an injured center in Nerlens Noel. The point guard was coming off his first All-Star berth at 22 years old.
What better way to start a tank job than by giving away a rising All-Star for absolutely nothing in terms of an on-court return the following season?
That New Orleans pick was flipped for another first, which became Dario Saric, who didn’t arrive in the NBA until the 2016-17 season.
Embiid came in the next year but didn’t play. Hinkie also dealt away 2014-15 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. So on and so forth.
Meanwhile, Holiday played in obscurity in New Orleans. That is until last year, when the Pelicans traded him to Milwaukee for two unprotected first-round picks, two pick swaps, and Eric Bledsoe and George Hill.
A steep price to pay for sure. But then the 6-foot-3 defensive menace played a significant role in bringing the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo their first championship in half a century.
To recap: Philly had 10 lottery picks in six years. The franchise ended up with Embiid and Simmons. The 6-11 point guard is MIA from the team and likely will never return. The Sixers haven’t advanced past the conference semifinals.
Holiday was traded to New Orleans, spent seven full seasons with that franchise, and then won an NBA championship eight years removed from his time in Philadelphia.
Holiday has another shot at a title while things don’t look any brighter in Philadelphia
The stink of the offseason Simmons drama has hung over the franchise for months. Even though the Sixers are off to a strong start this year, it still lingers.
The three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive Team point guard, by all appearances, is never putting on a Sixers jersey again. If and when he exits, all that’s left from The Process is Embiid.
The 7-foot Cameroonian is without question a superstar. But even after missing the entirety of his first two seasons in the league, Embiid still has problems staying on the floor. He’s never played more than 64 games in a season and missed 21 in each of the last two.
On the other hand, Holiday is playing with a two-time league MVP in Antetokoumpo on a team that returns almost its entire core from last year’s championship squad.
There are a whole host of questions regarding whether or not Embiid or Simmons will ever win a title. Holiday already has. And he has a better chance at winning multiple before The Process ever pays off with one.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.