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March 04, 2017

What they’re saying: The Sixers should be thanking Sam Hinkie

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The Sixers have received their fair share of negative press over the past few weeks. And rightfully, so as no Sixers news has been the only form of good Sixers news. Still, even if the franchise’s future is a bit uncertain, there is a lot of appealing stuff on the Sixers roster and in the pipeline.

There is some real upside here in Philadelphia, which I again thought about last night as Dario Saric was destroying the New York Knicks down the stretch in a game that the Sixers won by a score of 105-102:

One person who is bullish on the Sixers roster and draft picks is Yahoo Sports’ Chris Mannix, who recently wrote a piece entitled “Why the 76ers should be thanking Sam Hinkie.” Mannix, who admits to initially being skeptical of the Hinkster — he certainly isn’t unique among national writers in this regard — believes that the Sixers are on schedule to rule the Eastern Conference when LeBron James eventually reaches an age that he can’t kick everyone else’s butt:

Nearly four years after Hinkie was hired and you wonder: Does anyone in Philadelphia regret the era? Three straight sub-20 win seasons were painful, and watching Hinkie trade away established talent (Evan Turner, Michael Carter-Williams, etc.) for draft picks was worse. But here are the Sixers, exactly where Hinkie hoped they would be, loaded with elite young talent and primed to be the heir to a post-LeBron James conference throne.

Mannix talks about how Hinkie didn’t want to be the Sacramento Kings (a relatively bad team) or the Atlanta Hawks (a relatively good team but nothing more). Which, you know, everyone who was paying attention to The Process knew a long, long time ago. But even in the midst of so much bad Sixers news, Mannix believes Hinkie had the team right on schedule:

No, Hinkie wanted to be … this. He wanted a roster loaded with 20-something stars and the cap space to add veterans to improve it. Philadelphia isn’t a free-agent destination — yet. But players know what Embiid is and understand what Simmons and Saric could be. If the Sixers make the jump to a mid-30-win team next season — and .500 and a push for a playoff spot isn’t out of the question — established veterans with options will start giving Philadelphia a look.

I have a post idea in the works for next week that touches on this topic, but it’s true that Embiid’s injuries are frightening and we still haven’t seen Ben Simmons play an NBA game. The Sixers’ roster and future definitely have some question marks, but on the other hand, Saric and Robert Covington could be their fifth and sixth-most important young players starting as early next year.

That’s not bad.

And while we’re on the subject of Hinkie, it seems like he and his former boss Daryl Morey were throwing around some zingers at the Sloan Conference in Boston this week:

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1.    We took a funny “American Pie” parody about The Process and had a recording artist bring it to life.

2.    2017 NBA Draft: I mentioned that there has been a lot of bad Sixers news lately, so I tried my best to spread at least some optimism with a first-round draft pick tracker.

3.    Sixers Beat Podcast: Who is to blame for Embiid and Simmons’ injuries?

4.    40 Days and 40 Nights: What a disastrous month-plus for the Sixers.

5.    In the wake of Joel Embiid’s injury, I offered three long thoughts, which include a little discussion about his looming contract extension talks.

6.    Are the Sixers driving you to drink? There’s now a Trust The Process IPA at a local establishment. Now that’s some creative advertising.

7.    Watch Jahlil Okafor play some of the worst defense you will ever see.

Other Sixers news, notes and analysis from around the web:

Woj Report: Joel Embiid’s extension dilemma: Adrian Wojnarowski, The Vertical

Embiid gets the Woj video essay treatment on the subject of his next contract extension. Woj believes the Sixers will push for less than the max and injury protections in the contract, but Embiid can enter restricted free agency in 2018, get his offer sheet, and force the Sixers to match.

Regardless of what route that Embiid decides to take, this is going to be a fascinating story to monitor.

All Hail Joel Embiid, the NBA Rookie of the Year: Nathaniel Friedman, GQ

The mind behind FreeDarko says that Embiid is the clear choice for Rookie of the Year:

Saric is coming on strong enough that, by virtue of sheer PT, he might end up unseating Embiid. Still, when you put them side-by-side, there’s no comparison. For 31 games, Joel Embiid was one of the best first-year players in recent memory. Naming him ROY may seem unconventional, even outlandish. It also makes perfect sense for Embiid, who has already established himself as both extraordinary and more than a little mischievous. We’re all pulling for Embiid; we want to imagine this season as a forecast of great things to come, not a tantalizing incomplete. Embiid has shown—and given—us so much already that we should celebrate him whenever we get the chance.

Joel Embiid is Greg Oden: Colin Cowherd

Not normally my cup of tea, but hey, different strokes…

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann