The NBA Draft lottery was Tuesday night, and the Philadelphia 76ers landed the No. 3 pick for next month's NBA Draft. It’s fair to say they’re in pretty good shape with young talent like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jahlil Okafor. Not to mention their 3rd pick this year and another top pick coming next year.
But it wasn’t easy to get to this point. In fact, it was borderline excruciating for 76ers fans. They had to watch their team be bad. Really bad. Actually, let me re-phrase that. They had to watch the Philadelphia 76ers absolutely suck and be the laughing stock of the NBA.
You see, it was a strategy that former 76ers GM Sam Hinkie employed. He decided to openly tank the franchise in order to turn things around. This was a strategy where he basically tried to lose as many games as possible, and make as many trades as possible to land top draft picks. Tanking is a strategy frowned upon in sports. These leagues don’t want teams to openly lose. It creates a bad product and doesn’t send the right message. At least in their eyes.
Let’s put it this way. The 76ers won a total of 19 games in 2014, 18 in 2015 and a historically worst 10 games in 2016. It was awful. But it worked. It landed Philly a lot of top picks and gave them a chance to rebuild their entire organization from top to bottom.
Sam Hinkie has always been scolded for this. He’s never received support from the team or the league. Until now, at least.
76ers owner owner Josh Harris thanked former general manager Sam Hinkie after the selection last night. "Thank you Sam Hinkie," Harris said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey.
"I want to be done with this building, man," the Sixers' principal owner said in the Hilton Midtown. "I'm ready to be, like, playing [in the playoffs]."
The Sixers had a 14.7% chance of landing the top pick in the draft, which ultimately went to the Boston Celtics. Hinkie resigned from his post (AKA was forced out, black balled and shamed) with the Sixers last season after three seasons with the team.
"Thank you, Sam Hinkie!" he said, again all but shouting for the rooftops. "You set us up well. I'm going to text him tonight, and give him a big kiss over text."
Philadelphia averaged less than 16 wins per season while Hinkie employed a strategy of tanking aggressively. Most people hated it. But public perception started to change a bit this past season when Philly fans realized how good of shape their organization is in.
Fans now appreciate Hinkie for getting things back on track. A banner with Hinkie's face was raised by Sixers fans at a NBA draft lottery viewing party hosted by The Rights To Ricky Sanchez Podcast in Philadelphia.
It’s a fascinating discussion. Some fans prefer to always try and win, but others will sacrifice a few bad years in order to get back to the top. I’ll be interested to see if more franchises start to employ the tanking strategy. Time will tell.