The Reasoning Behind “The Process”


Okafor 76ers
Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers rebuild, nicknamed “The Process” by Sixers fans, has been the subject of basketball debate for the past three years since Sam Hinke and Brett Brown were hired as GM and coach respectively. Some like the idea, some hate the idea, and some lie somewhere in the middle. However, fans seem to forget about the place the team was at before, and how it led to the start of the rebuild that has divided so many NBA fans.


Before the 2012 NBA season, the Sixers were part of a four team trade with the Nuggets, Magic and Lakers. In the trade, they received Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. They traded Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets, and Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, and a first round pick to the Magic. Bynum would never play a single game for the Sixers, while Richardson remained a bench player until he eventually retired a few years later, all while giving up two starters on a playoff team, a just drafted first round pick, and a future first.

The 2012 season predictably did not go will for the Sixers, despite starting point guard, Jrue Holiday, being named an all star for the first time in his career. If you revisit the starting lineup from that Sixers team, only two players are currently in NBA starting lineups. The other three are role players with various degrees of playing time (only one plays over twenty minutes per game). They finished fourteen games under .500 and landed the eleventh pick in the draft. In other words, the Sixers were in the least desirable spot in the NBA; too bad to make the playoffs (or do anything if they got there), yet too good to get a high pick in the draft. As a result, Doug Collins and Tony DiLeo were fired and Sam Hinke was hired before the 2013 NBA draft.

It was that draft where Sam Hinke started “The Process”, trading Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans in exchange for Nerlens Noel and a top five protected first round pick (the pick was later traded to Orlando for the rights to Dario Saric and the first round pick that Philly had previously traded to the Magic in the Bynum trade).


Asset collection has been the goal of the Sixers since Hinke arrived in Philadelphia (list of acquired assets is here). While the 76ers have been downright atrocious this season, they are still lined up to have a bright future. Joel Embiid (barring another setback) will join the Sixers next season, along with Dario Saric (if he opts out of his Euro team’s contract), and potentially four first rounders from the 2016 NBA draft. Say the Sixers luck into Ben Simmons, Caris Levert, and Demetrius Jackson in the 2016 Draft. We are now looking at a starting lineup of Jackson and Levert (solid backcourt that will continue develop after their rookie years) Simmons (a potential superstar the would legitimize the rebuild) Okafor (advanced scorer who could move away from the rim on defense with Embiid playing center) and Embiid (possible all-world big man who has the potential to challenge Anthony Davis’s title of Best Big Man in the League), with Noel and Saric coming off the bench. The 76ers also have to most cap space in the league, so they could make a run at Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan or Harrison Barnes in free agency (highly unlikely, but possible).

The Sixers were not a championship team. They were the definition of mediocrity. The thought process behind “The Process”, collecting tradeable assets and draft picks while holding cap space, makes the most sense as the path for a team to acquire a star player and compete for a championship. Whether it unfolds the way the 76ers hope it does, and whether you believe in the execution of the rebuild or not, the Sixers did what they believed was the best choice for their team in the long run. Whatever the outcome, mediocrity does not seem to be in the future of this team.

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