What is the Philadelphia 76ers’ ‘The Process?’ Is it Working?

Philadelphia 76ers

NBA teams often have several monikers or nicknames attached to them. For example, the names ‘Bad Boys’ Pistons and ‘Showtime Lakers’ were often monikers used for successful teams like the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers. Though Philadelphia 76ers never had success compared to these teams, the sixers also have a nickname that define one of their crucial eras in the NBA.

The Sixers started accumulating fame following the popularity of the phrase, ‘Trust the Process.’ Yes, unlike the other teams, the Philadelphia franchise never earned its nickname owing to its performances or star roster. As of 2023, it’s been almost a decade since the NBA fans have been hearing this term. In this article, we trace the history of Philadelphia 76ers’ era of rebuilding and assess if their ‘process’ indeed worked.

What is ‘The Process?’

The Sixers were never devoid of having some of the most talented players from NBA’s pool. In 2012, their team consisted of top brass players such as Andre Iguodala, Drew Holiday, Lou Williams, and Nikola Vuchevich. However, after getting knocked out in the Second Round of the playoffs in that season, the Sixers knew it was time for a rebuild.

On May 2013, in the off-season preluding to the 2013-14 season, the Sixers made history by trading the largest number of players. Some of their most notable trades included trading Iguodala and Vuchevich for Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. Interestingly, Bynum was one of the top rated players at that time. Hence, the Sixers management were hopeful they had scored the star player that they always wanted. However, all of that turned out to be wishful thinking, as Bynum could not play a single game for the Sixers, owing to knee injury.

The Sixers were still lagging behind in their success, despite a kickstart to their ‘Process.’ If we put things in perspective, the team was mediocre, which could be the worst nightmare for any NBA franchise. Being average meant the team could neither be good enough to contend for the playoffs, nor be worse of the lot to get a top lottery pick.

That same season, Sam Hinkie was promoted as the general manager for the Sixers. Hinkie was determined to not let his team be defined by mediocrity and contend for the best places to gain a playoff spot.

It seemed like Hinkie’s deliberate tactic of tanking crucial games was working in his favor. Though Philly was not earning the first overall pick, they did earn some lottery pick to add players like Joel Embiid to their roster. But as mishap befell the Sixers, their draft picks were constantly getting injured and missing out on crucial games.

Indubitably, Hinkie’s process was not working. He was replaced by Jerry Colangelo, after Hinkie served a 7000 word resignation to the Sixers management. Colangelo brought in some notable draft picks such as Ben Simmons. However, similar fate as Embiid further awaited Simmons until his ‘Rookie of the Year’ performance in 2018.

By early 2021, it was seeming like the All-Star performances from Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris was finally translating in terms of on-court successes. But that hardly helped, given the Sixers were still lacking in performance during their playoff runs. Both Joel Embiid, and coach Doc Rivers tried putting Ben Simmons under the bus for their playoff upset in 2022.

This started months long saga between the Sixers and Simmons, with the latter deliberately missing games and being fined over $19 million by the organization. This finally led to the Sixers trading Simmons for James Harden in 2022.

The Beard, Embiid, and Tobias Harris were expected to form a Big Three for the Sixers at the start of the 2022-23 season. And their regular season performance did translate to some relative success. Joel Embiid was elected the regular season MVP and the Sixers progressed to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, a defensively sound and formidable Boston Celtics ousted the Sixers off the playoffs 4-3 in the series. And unfortunately, Harden’s lackluster performance in Game 7 of the series earned him much scrutiny from media and fans alike.

Is the ‘Process’ working?

In simple words, the Philadelphia 76ers seem to be in utter chaos ahead of the 2023-24 season’s star. Similar to the Ben Simmons saga, their star point-guard, James Harden has publicly called out Daryl Morey and the Sixers management during a publicity tour in China. This attracted a fine of $100,000 for Harden from the league, with the Beard seeming relatively undeterred to retract from his statements.

James Harden was expecting a trade from Philadelphia, which was the reason why he choose his $35 million player option. However, with no conclusive resolution from the management, it’s most likely that Harden would sit out on games during the season’s start. This would attract him a fine of $389,000 per game missed. And if so, there are chances Harden would even cross Ben Simmons in terms of fines paid.

In conclusion, the Philadelphia 76ers’ ‘Process’ have failed horribly for the franchise. The franchise lacks a holistic and patient approach in their rebuild, which is one of the major reasons why their performances lack output during crucial stages. Perhaps, the next season might be a wonder for them, as long as they are able to resolve their internal crises between their own players and the management.