By now, your opinions on Sam Hinkie should be long formed. He’s a living God, the embodiment of all that is forward-thinking in this world. Or you still can’t stop rolling your eyes, can’t help yourself. Or you acknowledge his great moves while questioning the time span or specific personnel choices. Etc. Etc. Etc.
There was a time, however, back before Markelle Fultz began playing high school varsity ball, when you didn’t know Hinkie’s exact intentions. There was a night when he showed those intentions. June 27, 2013. Jrue Holiday, Sixers point guard, suddenly was an ex-Sixers point guard. Nerlens Noel, injured big man, was coming. A future first-rounder was coming. The Sixers were officially building for the future.
It all began that night, what became the Trust the Process movement. Was this deal smart? What about future Hinkie moves? Let’s grade them and point out how they led to today.
The Noel trade (A)
You had to form an opinion that night. It was suddenly obvious the Sixers weren’t planning to be good for X+2 years. Noel himself didn’t turn out to be a savior. But Hinkie got a draft choice that turned out to be Dario Saric. And letting Jrue Holiday go directly led to losses, which led to Joel Embiid.
Drafting Michael Carter-Williams (C-)
This, in real time, may have caused you to question Hinkie’s scouting acumen. A tall, athletic point guard who could defend and push the pace. Great, but if Carter-Williams couldn’t shoot, you couldn’t win big with him.
Trading Michael Carter-Williams (A+)
Credit to the Hinkie regime for quickly recognizing that MCW wasn’t a long-term answer. Trading him in February of 2015 was a signature Process move. A failed starter for a first-round choice, whenever it conveyed — which turns out to be next year. No MCW trade, probably no Fultz trade.
The Orlando trade (A+)
Let’s move back two stops and get a future first-rounder back out of the deal. Sound familiar? Except Orlando missed out on Markelle Fultz and got Elfrid Payton instead. The Sixers ended up with Dario Saric. Today, you’d rather have him.
Drafting Joel Embiid (A)
Ending up third, this 2014 pick was so obvious, you can’t give Hinkie too much credit. It was the only choice. However, shedding veterans led to this draft position.
Drafting Jahlil Okafor (F)
Hinkie’s worst move. Drafting assets regardless of position is a good thing, an accepted Process practice. Okafor turned out not to be an asset. Whatever the reasons behind the pick, it failed and current management shouldn’t be blamed for the difficulty in unloading the mismatched big man. (If ownership forced Hinkie to choose Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis, he should have noted that in his famed exit manifesto).
Keeping veterans off his team (B)
This is one of the arguable Hinkie points, subject to legitimate debate. Hinkie did his young guys no favors by not having enough leadership on the team during his years in charge. But if you’re trying to lose is that the wrong thing?
The Sacramento trade (A++++++)
Another signature Hinkie heist. Maybe the signature Hinkie heist, and one that greatly impacts the Fultz trade. Sacramento needed cap room. The Sixers said, c’mon into our showroom, lounge around on all the spacious cap room. College courses should be written about this heist.
Taking so long
It cost Hinkie his job. You could argue the Sixers weren’t bad enough the first couple of years, which kept the can kicked down the road. Now that a highway on-ramp has appeared, was it worth it? GRADE: Completely up to you.