We are now beyond The Process and on to The Results, and underwhelming does not even begin to explain where the Sixers currently stand...
Contributor: Carson Fowler (@cafowler13)
Every time we, the fans, think the Sixers’ blunders can’t bring us to a lower point, they prove us wrong again. After an embarrassing playoff debut for this horrid construction of a roster, Philadelphia has turned from the most asset rich team in the league, to a squad stuck with no abundance of picks, and two of the worst contracts in the association. While Brett Brown and Elton Brand are the two easy (and deservingly so) scapegoats, the problem goes much deeper than the surface names of our coach and general manager. Alex Rucker, our executive VP, Ned Cohen, our assistant GM, and every other mainstay from the Colangelo era have just as much blame in the mismanagement of this roster as Brand and Brown do, if not more. This disfunction stems down from ownership, where Josh Harris and David Blitzer have done nothing to show they can competently run a franchise. From letting Adam Silver step in and run Sam Hinkie out of town, to attempting to cut their employees’ pay during a pandemic, the organization needs to be completely revamped, which starts with the team being sold, and everyone in the front office, along with Brett Brown, being fired.
It’s important to understand none of this is Joel or Ben’s fault. Even with recent rookie sensations like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Ja Morant, and Zion Williamson, it’s incredibly rare to see a team have two players, in back to back years, come in and instantly change the outlook of the franchise. Embiid and Simmons were instant all-stars as soon as they stepped on the court, and “The Process” quickly changed to “How fast can we build a contender around our two young superstars?”. The front office’s lack of understanding about the consistent need for development, even with such tremendous early success, caused them to abuse assets at an alarming pace. The list of players who won a championship as a top player at the age Embiid and Simmons: Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan. That’s the list. Acknowledging that players reach their peak on their 2nd and 3rd contracts and establishing a core to grow with your franchise players is a much more fundamentally sound way to build a team. Comparing this to what the Sixers actually did, which was selling almost every asset besides Ben and Joel to go all in while they were 22 and 24 respectfully, shows how out of touch the front office is with the league.
While two-way wings in their mid-20’s to early 30’s dominate the league, the Sixers brass thought it would be in their best interest to surround their two superstars with two over paid players who play the same position as their respective stars. They let the prototype of a 3rd star in Jimmy Butler walk, after acknowledging he was exactly what they needed by trading for him. They were incredibly unfortunate with the Markelle Fultz pick not working out, but once again, they acknowledged they needed a perimeter initiator who can get his own shot.
How they went from understanding the guard they needed, to signing Tobias Harris and Al Horford to gargantuan deals that seem borderline un-tradeable, is a mistake they shouldn’t be allowed to try and fix.
The window for a title with Ben and Joel as your center pieces is far from closed, and the fact that the team has been blow up and revamped twice already, with the window still open, shows how hard the front office jumped the gun. The amount of wrong decisions that have been made the past few years seems almost too large of a number to be real, and they’ve all been made with a complete misconception of needs. Embiid is the longest tenured member of this roster, and he’s only played 4 real seasons. The lack of continuity makes any real progress of scheme and fit near impossible for Ben and Joel, having to plug and play with new teammates at every turn. Joel has been very vocal about players he misses, and how it’s been an adjustment this year for him, alluding to the idea that management doesn’t bring him in on big time decisions. In a star-driven league not keeping your two all-stars in the loop about changes to the teammates they in fact play with, seems like complete malpractice. Simmons and Embiid both deserve much better than this organization has given them, and as a fan I hope they understand the appreciation they have from us and this city. While it’s not too late to get the best out of our young duo, the team better act fast before one, or both, decide they’ve had enough.