Somewhere, Sam Hinkie has to be grinning.
Love him or despise him, the former 76ers general manager set up the franchise to take a major step forward in the 2016 NBA Draft. The tough part was dealing with the 199 losses over the last three seasons.
Trust the process?
Well, that process was further put into motion by new President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo and his front office staff. Without those pieces available by Hinkie, the success of this draft would not be as noticeable.
By now, everyone knows that the Sixers selected LSU forward Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick. Duke’s Brandon Ingram was an option, but the Sixers clearly made the right move here.
Thanks in large part to Hinkie, the Sixers also held the Nos. 24 and 26 picks with previous trades involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Sixers went the foreign route and took 6-foot-7 forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from France. Two picks later, they drafted 18-year-old shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz, who’s currently a teammate of Dario Saric.
Leading up to the draft, the popular thought was to move up by dealing the likes of Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor. That still could happen, but Colangelo didn’t panic and pull the trigger by mortgaging the future.
With Joel Embiid hopefully back and Saric potentially on the way, the Sixers will be much improved.
They’re in place to compete now and they have plenty of assets in the future via Hinkie’s creativity.
“As we continue to look at how we’re going to put this team together, it’s far from a completed project,” Colangelo told reporters. “This is a work in progress that will continue throughout the summer.”
The phone rang in the days leading up to the draft and throughout the fluid night. It’s easy to get excited and make a deal to win immediately. This process is both short-term and long-term. There was no need to get crazy.
“The deals that were presented, the assets that were asked for, the players that were asked for, we decided it was not in our best interest,” Colangelo told reporters. “We didn’t feel like any of those trade scenarios would have put us in a position where we want to be going forward, so we took a patient approach, we passed on a few opportunities where we could have reached. We still feel like this was the right chain of activity to follow.”
Getting the No. 1 overall pick was something the Sixers haven’t had since taking Allen Iverson in 1996. That pick worked out quite well. Simmons was the logical pick and sure looks to be a future All-Star.
“I always want to be the best player,” Simmons said. “They selected me at one, so it means a lot. They believed in what I can bring to franchise.”
“Ben’s going to improve everything across the board, including the bottom line,” Colangelo added. “He’s a star figure in his own right at this age. If he does the things that are required from a basketball standpoint to continue to improve, the sky’s the limit for him. Basketball, business, everything is being affected in a positive way.”
Colangelo affected the future of the Sixers with a solid group of picks. Somewhere, Hinkie has to be grinning. After all, he’s the one who set this whole process up.