I have never been too skeptical of what Sam Hinkie was doing in Philadelphia. And while some of it was confusing, strange, stupid, and even smart, you always had to give it a chance, because you never knew when it was gonna make sense.
In the past two or three months or so, it started to make sense. They weren’t winning or doing anything different. They sucked, like always. But it made sense because the final and right guy had came along: LSU’s Ben Simmons.
I’m about as high as you can be on Ben Simmons. (Don’t give me the “You don’t watch college basketball” crap. You know how I treat that sport and why I watch it. Its not worth covering on the site because there’s a limited amount that needs to be covered.) I think he is the best prospect since Kevin Durant, and I think he should go No.1 no matter what in the Draft. The potential is too high.
I bet you Hinkie knew that, and had the 76ers gotten the No.1 overall pick, they would have taken Simmons. Let me make a case to you here…
- Ish Smith
- Ben Simmons
- Dario Saric
- Nerleans Noel
- Joel Embiid
Is a possible (a lot of ifs and whats here, I know) lineup of what is above that bad? At least, this is something you can see coming together at some point.
The moving parts here: 1) The Sixers first have to actually draft Ben Simmons, and that will take No.1 overall, which is in the lottery’s hands. I think this lineup would be very similar if they end up with Brandon Ingram, who’s gonna go No.2 and could be more of a fit on paper for the 76ers. 2) It is confirmed that Dario Saric will be joining the 76ers next season. Saric is a Croatian stretch 4, who has the skills to play the 3-spot, and is a underrated piece that no one has considered. 3) Jahlil Okafor is not in this lineup, and that will be dependent on many things, including whether the team gets Simmons or Ingram in the draft. 4) There are some good bench pieces, like Robert Covington and Jerami Grant, who could even be expendable.
That’s a lot that has to happen, but its also something, that clearly, the Colangelos have failed to see. Notice the plural? Yeah, thats because Hinkie’s replacement is Bryan Colaneglo, Jerry’s son.
That lineup has a lot going on. A position-less freak in Ben Simmons, who yeah, is gonna have to work on expanding his offense, but has too high of a ceiling to pass on for a raw offensive game. It has a stretch 4 playing even smaller at the 3-spot, though Saric is showing the capability to knock down outside shots overseas (41% on 3s isn’t bad!). And also has two centers playing with each other, which well, doesn’t really work anymore, and is something I’ve advocated strongly against over the past couple years, but could be offset by the combo of Saric and Simmons. And hey! Ish Smith has played very well for the Sixers since he arrived there!
Its a short-sighted vision by the Colangelos, who practically forced out Hinkie, the guy who is most likely to see this possibility. Some of this column may have already offended the many Arizona sports fans who are reading this and who love Jerry Colangelo. My Dad described him as a “hero” in Arizona. The rest of this column may as well too.
It may be surprising I’m being so critical of the Colangelos. They are heroes in Arizona. The reason the Diamondbacks and Suns exist in Arizona is because of Jerry Colangelo. Without him, my Dad may not even be that big of a sports fan. My Dad got me into basketball and baseball, because Jerry Colangelo got the Suns to Phoenix before my Dad was born, and because he grew up playing baseball and always had a connection with it. The Diamondbacks coming to Arizona gave him and I a team to root for, and helped me love the sport. So yeah, my criticism of Colangelo may not sit well with the majority of people reading this.
But the blame can’t totally go on Jerry for the situation in Philly, even though it is ironic that he hired his son to be GM!
It all starts at the top for Philadelphia. Terminating Hinkie three months before this could have started to make sense and come together was short-sighted. Its fair to assume that Sixers ownership was never on the same page as Hinkie, and probably thought he was a crazy man, which, well, he probably was.
I read his whole, 13 page resignation letter. I interpreted it as a long, sophisticated, and complex language-filled FU letter to the Colangelos, and also got a “Watch this work out for you guys.” vibe from it. Because he knows it will work, and there are many reason for me to too.
Maybe Hinkie is a weirdo. His resignation letter proves that further. But he was also smart. Too smart for the 76ers. And by the front office moves made by Philly in wake of Hinkie’s resignation, it shows their intelligence level was never on Hinkie’s level. Thats why he isn’t there anymore.
As for what Sam Hinkie does next? Maybe he gets a GM job soon. Maybe its only a role in someone’s front office. Maybe its a GM job in a couple years. Maybe its nothing at all. Whatever and wherever it is, the team that buys into must be prepared and have confidence. I think they will when they see this Philadelphia team take off in the next three years.
I’m sure the NBA is thrilled about Hinkie’s resignation too. The guy has drove them insane for years with the way he’s toyed with the lottery. So much so its driven people to come up with a whole new lottery system, which is an issue, just a different one than this. (The issue with the lottery system is exactly what happened to the Cavaliers in the past five years: Three No.1s in five years.)
Hinkie has been hated for many reasons so far. The one reason they haven’t been able to hate him yet for is winning. Thats about to change.