I distinctly remember a day, two seasons ago, where my cousin and I had driven to Philadelphia for unrelated reasons, but decided 30 minutes before the Sixers tipped off to buy two tickets- for $12 a piece (including tax). Our seats were good, the game was bad, but the time was fun. If you actually discussed “Philadelphia basketball” at that time, you were either referring to Villanova, or the entirely theoretical hope that someday, somehow, all the Sixers high level picks would turn into a good basketball team.
The 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers won ten games. Out of 82. They went 10-72, which amounts to the second worst 82 game season ever. At that time, Sam Hinkie was being blasted by the local media, opposing owners, and even a lot of Sixers fans for how bad the team was. Joel Embiid hadn’t played a game yet, nor had Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons wasn’t a thought yet. J.J. Redick wouldn’t have signed with that bucket of slop team. Things were bad.
The 42-30 Sixers clinched a playoff spot Sunday when Indiana beat Miami. They’re fourth in the East right now. Joel Embiid is a legitimate cornerstone, All-Star big man. Ben Simmons is clearly the highest impact rookie in the league, a threat for a triple-double every night. Dario Saric should have won last year’s Rookie of the Year award, and is one of the most solid guys on the team. Redick and Robert Covington provide solid, all-around veteran play. Richaun Holmes, T.J. McConnell, and a supporting cast of high energy bench pieces make it fun to watch. The Sixers arrived in a hurry, and are one of the hottest teams in the league of late.
It didn’t happen easy though. “The Process” took two GMs, over a half dozen lottery picks, a few “tank” jobs, lots of patience from the fans, and plenty of questionable, tough calls for the front office. If we get down to it, at least half the lottery picks either never materialized in Philadelphia, or haven’t yet. The team sometimes seemed to self-sabotage the on-court product on the way, in favor of getting higher picks. Only once along the five miserable seasons did the Sixers actually draw the top pick. There was reason to have doubts.
The end result? None of us know when or if there will be a Sixers parade down Broad Street. There will be playoff games though, in a couple of weeks. There’s no way to know if LeBron James or any other star free agent will come to Philadelphia this Summer, or soon after, but the team is both good and can afford them. The good news though is that this team should be good for a sustained run of good basketball. The Process appears to have worked.
Always Trust The Process.