The Process Can No Longer Be Trusted
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“Trust the process”, the saying coined to describe the horrid years of the Sixers franchise just a few years ago, well that “process” hasn't been kind to the Sixers and its fanbase. A decade of tanking and vying for the number pick hoping to find their next big star and get them out of the doormat of the NBA has not paid off the way many had hoped. However, after a first-round sweep, can the process be trusted?
Like with all drafts, there are some hits and misses, and the Sixers aren’t exempt. Case in point selecting Jahlil Okafor 3rd overall in the 2015 draft, and Markelle Fultz 1st overall in 2017. Those picks didn't help the franchise, and the fact that neither of those players plays in Philly at the moment shows just how big of a crab shoot the draft is.
However, sometimes you can hit a home run, and look no further than the Joel Embiid pick to prove that. While the Bucks and Cavs opted for Wiggins and Parker, the Sixers struck gold with the Jayhawk alum. Of course, even with all of his faults, Ben Simmons' pick looks like a good one as well. So in all, four top-5 picks in the last decade, two have become All-Stars for the Sixers, two don't play for them.
I’ll admit, the process is more than just those four picks, but in all, what has this phase gotten the Sixers?
In the 2017-2018 season, they ended a 5-year playoff drought, increasing their win total from 28 to 52, and defeated the Heat in the first round. Not satisfied, they added Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler the following summer and had the second-highest odds to win the title. They finished 3rd in the conference and were once again booted out in the second round by the eventual champs (Raptors). No question the ending of the Sixers season was a disappointment.
Coming into this season they lost Butler and Reddick but added Al Horford. In other words, Embid and Simmons would have to step up for Philly to be successful. However, both missed time due to injury, and the team finished with a lower winning percentage than they did their previous two seasons. Add in a first round sweep and you now have a franchise in flux.
Heading into next season they’ll have four guys making $30 million or more. Yes this is an odd year, and Simmons missed the playoffs, but one has to wonder what can Philly do to get any better. With their coach being fired, Embid or Simmons could be on the chopping block next. And given the fact that there are essentially five teams in front of them, drastic measures may need to be taken.
Although Elton Brand, Sixers GM, expressed zero interest in moving either of his young stars, a philosophy change must be made. The Bucks, Raptors, and Celtics are clearly the stalwarts of the East and none of them are going away anytime soon. And if Simmons and Embid can't coexist with each on the court then the franchise will toil in mediocrity for the remainder of their prime years.
All those years of taking, trading, and trusting in a process that was aimed a getting them young stars has boiled down to a 6th place seeding, cap issues, and two injury-prone cornerstone players. A new coach with a new philosophy could breathe new life into this roster, but if this is "trusting the process" then count me out.