It’s an anxious feeling when it comes to the 2017 NBA Draft for a fan like myself. As a Sixer faithful, I have been dragged through one of the most ridiculed and scrutinized tanking efforts that professional sports has ever seen. It has truly been a rollercoaster ride.
June of 2013: I knew the Sixers were heading in a direction I had never seen before under a new regime. I was not sure if I should literally Trust the Process, or just be angry at the fact that the Sixers would be so bad for so long with no hope in sight.
(Can you name this starting five?)
Well, I would be lying if I said I have not experienced both. I saw more of a failure than a success at first. When I saw that Joel Embiid went down with a second season-ending foot injury, I wondered if this whole “Process” was ever going to see sunny days. At that time, the Sixers still had Michael Carter-Williams and he is now so far removed from things, that it seems like ages ago.
Then I saw little glimmers of hope as things came along. With the addition of Jahlil Okafor, (yes I know he is now a shell of what he could be,) I saw signs of this team moving in the right direction with flashes on the court, but those only resulted in 10 wins. There was still two to three more missing pieces needed.
The luck fell our way during 2016’s Draft Lottery when the Sixers obtained the No. 1 overall pick and as we all know, drafted Ben Simmons. Simmons has yet to take the floor because of a foot injury, so I will refrain from giving him too much praise, as I know more than anyone what injuries can do to a process like this. But barring any more health concerns, this man could be a special player for the Sixers, and a one of a kind player in the league.
As the 2016-2017 season started, the Sixers just seemed so much more fun to watch with a guy like Embiid at the helm because he showed that he’s capable of being a superstar. Now, he did play only 31 games, so I know we have a long way to go when it comes to his health. But if he can stay upright for the majority of the season, it can go a long way for this Sixers team, as Embiid is a big man with dominant two-way skills.
When it comes to Sam Hinkie, we know what he was able to do for this team. Bryan Colangelo took over after Hinkie was relieved of his duties, and completed what Hinkie started. My only argument against Hinkie is he may not have pulled the trigger on trading up to draft No. 1 this year in a trade with the Celtics.
Hinkie’s only hiccup in his stint with the Sixers was probably drafting Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis. Imagine what Porzingis and Embiid could’ve done together.
Well, I think Embiid is imagining it anyway.
We don’t care about Exit meetings in Philly… you’re welcome to join
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2017
Now, on to Markelle Fultz. The majority of the analysts in America project Fultz to be a franchise changing player because of his strong offensive abilities. Fultz can shoot the ball at a high rate, as he connected on 41% of threes at Washington and he can get to the rim with speed and finish with both hands. Some people say that he’s not a leader because the Huskies won only 9 games at last season, but I think that’s exaggerated.
ESPN’s College Basketball Analyst Seth Greenberg was one of the critics:
I can see the argument to a point, but people do not really understand how bad that team was, and that they were projected to finish near the bottom of the league.
He also was the MVP on the Gold Medal winning U-18 Team USA basketball team, so that shows a little bit of leadership in my opinion. He has the abilities as he scored 24 points and averaged 6 assists per game, he just has to translate it to the NBA. I think he can do that because of his size, and with the addition of Simmons in the fold, he will be able to play off the ball as Simmons will be the point forward and facilitating the offense.
Think of how the Cavaliers play with LeBron bringing up the ball and Kyrie playing off the ball, that is what the Sixers imagine when it comes to the combo of Fultz and Simmons.
As I referred to the “process” before, it seems like a roller coaster ride with up’s and down’s throughout it all. Seeing a young team grow was always a positive thing, and it only seems like it will keep happening.
The combination of Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz with Robert Covington and Dario Saric will be very fun to watch. The Sixers season tickets are selling like crazy because of the potential this young team has. I know people will say that they won’t believe it until all of these guys stay healthy. That may be the case, but this “process” has been dragged on for a very long time.
This time to celebrate has been long awaited.