It was a surprise that was not such a surprise on Wednesday evening. Sam Hinkie officially resigned from his position with the 76ers about 4 months after Jerry Colangelo was hired. Bryan Colangelo, Jerry’s son and 2-time executive of the year, will become next GM. During his tenure, Hinkie was a polarizing figure. There were some who saw a method in his losing madness, and others who saw his tanking as a damaging act to both the 76ers ery and the NBA.
Bashing Hinkie is quite easy. The 76ers have been bad at historical levels and accumulated an image under his watch. The team lacked veteran leadership and many times ran a roster with more D-league talent than NBA talent. He followed a “draft the best available regardless of fit” position, which lead many to think he had no knowledge of how the NBA works, and got all the potential franchise pieces at the 4 and the 5 positions, many of them that clearly would never fit together. He traded established talent (Holiday and, to some extent, Carter Williams) for the most amount of picks he could garner.
Hinkie followed a logic that said it makes no sense to build just to get swept in the 1st round. He claimed it was better to tank for 3-4 years and gather a team that could fight for a championship for the next 6 years than one that would peak at a conference semi-finals berth. For all the criticism we can make, he had the 76ers in a very powerful position. Okafor could be used to net a valuable trade package if they decide to roll with Noel and Embiid. They will, in all likelihood, have either the number one or the number 2 pick in this draft (or even another top 5 pick if the Lakers fall out of the top 3) and have a chance to draft franchise players in either Ingram or Simons. They have stockpiled assets in the shape of multiple first and second round picks that can be a valuable trade asset. They have Dario Saric (widely considered the best overseas player at the time of his draft) coming over this season possibly. They have a culture of hard work established under Brett Brown who may now finally have a chance to showcase his coaching skills (assuming they keep him). For all his “wrongdoings”, Hinkie has put Bryan in a position where he can basically go in any direction he wants. He will not have toxic contracts and will have the choice of drafting his own franchise player.
Where will the 76ers go from here? I have no idea. While I supported the process Hinkie was developing, maybe it was time to finally put a winning product on the floor, especially after this year’s draft where they can draft a generational talent. And that’s something Bryan knows how to do after stints with both the Phoenix Suns (and the 7 seconds or less offense with D’Antoni) and the Toronto Raptors (leading them to their first divisional title and swooping in the likes of Lowry and DeRozan). The most likely scenario, and the one that makes the most sense, is drafting Brandon Ingram due to his shooting ability that would complement a potential frontcourt of Noel and either Okafor or Embiid. The rumor around the league was that Okafor could be the one that got traded due to Embiid’s potential. Saric coming over is also going to help this team immediately. Look for them to be players in the free agency with this new front office, looking to bring in established talents and veterans to build a winning culture in the locker room.
The takeaway from all of this? The change was probably for the best but the success the 76ers might experience in the future will be in no small part a consequence of Sam Hinkie. He dared to go against the norm and, while it may seem that he lost, the future success of this team would be the ultimate proof that he was not as mistaken as many believe.
By: Step Back-J