Don’t worry, the picture will make sense in a bit.
BY PAUL MANCANO – Much has been made of Sixers’ general manager Sam Hinkie’s fearless trust in injured big men and foreign players who are taking their sweet old time in getting to the States. So far, he’s got a team of cripples and placeholders. Oh, and Michael Carter-Williams. That’s not exactly the typical blueprint for success.
It’s one thing to project a group of young, talented players to form a core of championship-level teams. It’s another to project a group of young, talented, injured players to form that core. Injury is the mortal enemy of sustained success. If the Sixers ever pry open a championship window, its broken down big men could slam it pretty quickly.
But Hinkie’s not too worried about that. We’ve heard a lot from him and from coach Brett Brown that top-notch teams are built with superstars. Having as many upper-tier players on your team as possible doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly helps. The Spurs don’t have LeBron, but they have a team stacked with talent from top to bottom.
Hinkie’s not satisfied with what he’s got, and nor should he be. Even after trading for Nerlens Noel last year, he tanked the team. He drafted the guy with, perhaps, the biggest star-potential of the bunch this year, and he’s tanking them again. He ended up using a lot of his second-round picks this year. Hinkie knows that the draft is full of busts, and most are unavoidable and unpredictable. Some teams would build a roster around a rising talent like MCW. Not Hinkie. If his plan goes the way he hopes, MCW will just be another piece of a dynastic dream team. He’s hoping MCW will be like the fourth-best player on this team. He’s stockpiling “assets” in the hopes that some of them pay off.
Embiid could be Hakeem Olajuwon, or he could be Greg Oden. He and Noel could be
David Robinson and Tim Duncan, or they could be Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy (so long as we have the Orb of Confusion, we’ll be good). Dario Saric could be a rich man’s Boris Diaw, or he could decide American women have nothing on Turkish women and stay overseas for good (he’d also be wrong). Next year, we could draft a stud, or we could draft a bum. But odds are, at least one of these guys pans out.
We tried going pretty much for broke on one player recently. It didn’t turn out too well.
Of course, I’m referring to the dreaded Andrew Bynum deal. In it, the Sixers got Jason Richardson and a salsa-dancing bowling star. They gave up Andrew Iguadala, Maurice Harkless, Nik Vucevic, and a future first-round pick (which they just got back – thank you, Elfird Payton). None of those guys, with the exception of Iggy, is a particularly impactful player, but that’s not the point. They traded away their best player, three bench pieces, and a first-round pick just to get Bynum and Richardson. Good riddance, Doug Collins.
You may not like the Embiid pick, but at least we didn’t trade away anybody or anything to move up to get him. If Saric ends up sucking, oh well. We only gave up (the already replaced) Jrue Holiday to get him. Plus, we also got Nerlens Noel’s flattop out of the deal.
We’re definitely gonna be the laughing stock of the league again next year, and we’ll probably be pretty awful the year after that. The front office will cash in on as many terrible seasons as they can with lottery pick after lottery pick. Not every one of them will turn out the way they hope, but maybe a couple guys will be the stars they’re projected the be.