The 76ers as we know them, are dead
This is probably the most heartbreaking article I’ve ever written. Back before 2013, I was never a major Sixers fan. I did watch but never claimed them as my favorite or really enjoyed basketball in general. When Sam Hinkie was brought on as the Sixers’ new GM, it sparked a major interest in me. The idea of using analytics and overall changing how to construct a team from the ground up really brought me in like I never expected. I was almost immediately sold on the idea that Sam had. This gathering of assets and liquidating everything for as much draft capital as possible, I became obsessed. Constantly looking over draft boards to see who the 76ers could get and mastering the knowledge of how 14 ping-pong balls could change everything. Long story short, the process pulled me in.
When Hinkie was eventually ousted by the NBA and replaced with the Colangelo’s, I was devastated. The process was finally coming into fruition and the tides were going to start to turn. Joel Embiid was finally about to play and Ben Simmons was about to join him as the latest #1 pick in the draft. Despite Hinkie being let go, I thought “He put everything in place, there is no way these guys can mess this up.” I don’t think I’ve ever said a more incorrect statement in my life.
The 76ers are on the brink of being swept in the first round by an incredibly weak Boston Celtics team and Brett Brown is on his way out as head coach. Ben Simmons is out for the season and they are paying Tobias Harris and Al Horford almost $300 million and look to be in cap hell through Simmons and Embiid’s prime.
Bryan Colangelo and his staff have managed to outrageously mishandle up the absolute biggest stash of talent and assets that a rebuild has, or ever will see. The list of bad moves is absolutely incredible. Where do I even begin? Waiting on Nerlens and Okafor to the point where you move each for absolutely nothing? How about drafting Anzejs Pasecniks over Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Derrick White? Or what about trading back from 10 to get the 2021 Miami Pick and missing on Mikal Bridges, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Michael Porter Jr. Even with moving to 16, the 76ers acquired the draft rights to Zhaire Smith over Donte DiVincenzo, Lonnie Walker, and Kevin Huerter.
That is only the tip of the iceberg of the picks the Sixers messed up. Do we want to talk about the several picks sold for cash where incredibly valuable 2nd rounders still remained? In 2019 selling or moving our 2nd round picks led us to miss out on players like Eric Paschall and Bol Bol to just name a few.
Through all of these boneheaded moves, you still had a chance. With Elton Brand now at the helm the 76ers decided to push in for a 3rd star after the early elimination against the Boston Celtics in 2018. Jimmy Butler arrives in a relatively cheap trade. But can’t retain him because he doesn’t agree with Brett Brown and moves his own way, leaving you with Josh Richardson. Jimmy Butler is so often made out to be the villain for what he did, maybe he just wanted to work with a top 3 head coach and GM with a lot of upcoming cap space and young talent. He could have stayed in Philly but it has been made blatantly obvious they made the wrong choice in who to keep.
After that, you still push all of your chips in 2019 and can’t get the job done. Overall you lost a decent amount of value, but you have the ability to bring 2 stars to help Joel and Ben and solidify a future core. What does the Sixers front office decide to do? They go after AL HORFORD. A 33-YEAR-OLD AL HORFORD. To feel that is the best player on the market with guys like Malcolm Brogdon and Kemba Walker available and after that give Tobias Harris a $180 Million 5 year deal. For a while, I have been very fond of what Harris has done but his lack of production in the Sixers 3 biggest games of the season and last year’s playoffs is completely inexcusable and outright embarrassing. The man who shot 40% from 3 in LA currently hasn’t made one 3 in the 2020 playoffs.
This team top to bottom has failed. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been failed by every single person around them. You can put some blame on them but they are the least of your concerns. The absolute waste of their young careers is the most laughable thing I have ever seen. This starts with ownership, a front office that hasn’t made 2 right moves in a row, and a head coach who has been given the benefit of the doubt for 3 years now that is completely unable to get the job done.
A championship team gets a job done by doing the little things. That doesn’t mean just trading for superstars. It means developing talent instead of selling picks to buy the Mets. A winning team doesn’t go after a shitty wing for $10 million when you need a shot creator because casual fans in a “hive” begged you to. The coach of that team also has to push your stars to constantly work hard so they’re in shape and games can be done in the 3rd instead of fighting until the last whistle.
I’m done, I am absolutely done with this current team. There needs to be a complete overhaul of everything in this organization. It won’t be a thing that will happen overnight but this needs to be stripped completely. There needs to be a new front office, a new coach, and a new roster. You keep Joel and Ben around if you’re lucky enough to convince them to not demand out.
Here is what you don’t do. You don’t just fire Brett and praise his new replacement as the man that will fix it all. You don’t break up Joel and Ben. Let me repeat that, YOU DO NOT BREAK UP JOEL AND BEN. This won’t be a quick and pretty fix, but it is necessary. For all purposes, the 76ers we know are dead.