The Philadelphia 76ers have become the laughing stock of the NBA. Yes, they have promising young talent, but does General Manager, Sam Hinkie, have a firm plan in place to re-establish this once proud franchise?
The rebuild started when the 76ers acquired Nerlens Noel via a 2013 draft day trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. Many basketball aficionados applauded the team’s willingness to obtain the dominant big man from Kentucky, despite the injury concerns.
After sitting out the 2013-14 season, Noel had a very successful rookie year with per game averages of 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. Just before the 76ers got their first glimpse of Noel at the 2014 Summer League, they obtained both Joel Embiid and Dario Saric during the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, knowing beforehand that both of these promising big men wouldn’t see playing time right away.
Embiid was coming off an injury to his foot, and Saric chose to remain playing overseas.
Eventually, both Saric and Embiid will take the court for the 76ers, but with Noel already in the picture, how do they both fit into the team’s plans? The situation became more perplexing when the 76ers drafted Duke big man, Jahlil Okafor, with the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
It’s a puzzling move for Hinkie, who drafted Okafor knowing both Embiid and Saric were getting that much closer to making their NBA debut. You really can’t blame Hinkie for drafting the best player on the board, but Okafor wasn’t what the 76ers needed to continue with their massive rebuild.
Philadelphia was is in dire need of a point guard after trading starting point guard, and 2013 Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, to the Milwaukee Bucks during February’s trade deadline. As a result, the team was left with newly acquired Isaiah Canaan and journeyman Ish Smith as its primary ball handlers. And while Philadelphia does feature former 1st round pick, Tony Wroten, his skill set is better suited as a two-guard.
Neither Smith or Canaan are considered building blocks to a rebuilding franchise, and one would have expected Hinkie to address the void at the point guard position at the draft. But, in what should come as no surprise, he didn’t. Hinkie drafted Okafor, despite having the chance to select a potential All-Star point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay with the third pick.
Okafor hasn’t taken kindly to being selected by Philadelphia. A video shows the NCAA National Champion throwing his jersey down in disgust after a introductory press conference with the team. There haven’t been any reports of Okafor wanting a trade, but he is without question unhappy in Philadelphia.
Its not just Okafor, Hinkie has made questionable decisions before. He traded away triple double machine, and promising rookie, Elfrid Payton to the Orlando Magic during the 2014 NBA Draft for the rights to Saric.
Not to mention, there were also some questionable decisions during this year’s draft. The 76ers had four second-round picks, and not one one was used on a guard. Instead, Hinkie drafted four players listed at 6’8 and above. Yeah, just what Philadelphia needs, another big man.