Sam Hinkie gave the term "rebuild" a whole new definition.
Losing is one thing, sure. Teams that have no talent, and hope to get a high lottery pick in the upcoming draft, throw games on purpose for the sake of future interests. It happens all the time.
But in Philadelphia, the 76ers took that concept to the extreme and, arguably, pushed the limits of tanking to limits it had never seen before. The 76ers were not only trying to lose games, but they didn't care who knew about it. They traded away every asset they had in exchange for draft picks, and high lottery chances. "The Process" had begun.
Before it got better, though, it got worse. It got way worse. Sam Hinkie was fired for starting what, at the time, looked like a complete disaster.
That "complete disaster" slowly turned into something truly extradordinary.
In last nights 115-109 win over the Lakers last night, Joel Embiid became yet another example of what "The Process" has become. In what was a historic night, Embiid tallied 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 blocks on 70% shooting.
"It feels great. I love L.A. I love the Staples Center, so I wanted to come out here and put on a show and I did," Embiid said after becoming the first player in NBA history with that line since blocks became an official statistic in 1973-74. "Too bad there wasn't any trash-talkers out there," he said with a smile. "But I still had fun and I got going. I just wanted to be aggressive. That's my new mentality. I can't wait to keep the same momentum."
As the crowned jewel of everything The Process represents, Embiid going off for a game like that is huge. And he's not alone.
As the top contender for Rookie of The Year, Ben Simmons has been putting on a show of his own. Averaging 17.8 points per game, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists, the Philly rookie has been putting up numbers rarely seen for someone t his age.
Between the two, the 76ers have suddenly become one of the most intriguing teams in the East. Their days of losing and lottery picks are over. They have arrived, they are here, and they are ready to win.
And, even with all that said, they're not done yet. Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Saric, they still have much to learn. The youngsters still have yet to reach their full potential.
The process that Sam Hinkie started so many years ago? It worked. It's finally worked, and we are starting to see the effects that risky endeavor.