All Hail Sam Hinkie!

But does the former Sixers GM really deserve it?

As Ben Simmons’ people negotiate with the Sixers over whether their client will play on the franchise’s summer-league team (as if a rookie should be dictating policy to his new employer), there’s a rather sizeable segment of the team’s fan base that’s lionizing former GM Sam Hinkie for his three-year commitment to producing abysmal basketball at full NBA prices—and, by extension, for the acquisition of Simmons.

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There’s plenty of truth to the argument that, without Hinkie, we wouldn’t have Simmons—that without the “Process,” the Sixers wouldn’t have a player who could be a future superstar. As for Furkan Korkmaz and Timothe Luwawu, the 24th and 26th overall selections, applaud Hinkie all you want. But as bottom-of-the-first choices in a rotten overall draft, they’re highly unlikely to become much of everything.

But there is Simmons, a 6-10 forward who joins the rest of the Sixers’ Leviathans. Two of them, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, aren’t too happy with the arrival of another tall person—especially one who, as the top overall pick, is going to start from the first day he laces up his big-money sneakers. Of course, they’re both part of the Process, too, and the Sixers tried desperately to trade each last Thursday.

It is quite revelatory—although not to those who read last week’s El Hombre column—that Okafor, the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, was unable to attract the number No. 3 in this year’s draft. Maybe Mr. Jah’s Wild Ride across the Ben Franklin Bridge or his Johnny Football redux up in Boston raised a few question marks. Or maybe his father’s screaming at the head coach from behind the bench wasn’t welcome. It could’ve been that his especially cavalier approach to defense and inability to rebound outside of his area made Boston GM Danny Ainge take California wing Jaylen Brown instead of dealing for Okafor.

Hard truth: Without Hinkie’s “Process,”

we don’t get Simmons.

Ben Simmons

​Sixers fans point to the fact that next year’s Lakers pick could belong to the Sixers, provided it’s not in the first three spots in the draft lineup. They also say that the locals get to swap choices with serial underachiever and all-around disaster Sacramento, which could well bring a top prospect next year, too. Those are Hinkie “assets,” and they could be big time. Or they could be duds, since the mercurial nature of young players promises nothing.

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So far, Hinkie’s Process resulted in three execratory seasons of ball—and Ben Simmons. It could well bring a lot more. Or it couldn’t. What we can be sure of is that the culture of losing Hinkie created was so profound that Okafor misbehaved as a rookie. Because, after all, who really cared what he did, anyway? And could you imagine what might happen if a rookie’s dad shouted at Gregg Popovich from the stands?

The Sixers were not just a hopeless pile of dreck on the court—they were also small-time off of it. Bryan Colangelo may not have been able to pull off a trade on draft night, but he wouldn’t have let the team become one of the biggest jokes (non-Browns division) in all of professional sports, either.

So, let us raise a glass to Hinkie, whose commitment to abhorrent basketball led to Ben Simmons. From here on, however, it’s about winning, something Sixers fans may no longer understand to be a franchise’s stated goal. The over-under on wins this year will probably be about 25, but that’s up from 10 or so. Meanwhile, let’s hope Simmons and his people realize that sitting out the summer league season wouldn’t be the best way to endear himself to the local fans or his bosses.

It’s time to win, Ben. Let’s see what you got.

EL HOMBRE SEZ: Things keep getting worse for the city’s other basement-dweller. The Phillies are so impotent at the plate that not even an extra-strength dose of Viagra in the Gatorade would help. Let’s hope the team’s collection of limp bats won’t scar the Phils’ collection of young arms for life. By having little margin for error, they could well suffer from a stress disorder by season’s end. Of course, the Phillies could provide Aaron Nola with 12 runs these days, and it may not help. 

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