Sam Hinkie’s three-year tenure as the Philadelphia 76ers general manager was supported by pillars of hope for the future and shrouded in laughable on-court results. Aside from the select few devoted Philadelphia faithful, watching a Sixers game could often be considered more of a chore than entertainment; evident in the 4,179 turnovers and 199 losses over the previous three seasons.
But what’s to come in 2016-17 won’t be the Sixers of yesteryear, and though the playoffs are still a year or two away, at the very least, the pieces in place should make for a tremendously entertaining season.
The anticipation surrounding the upcoming season could be credited to what may be Hinkie’s vision finally coming to light, though Hinkie’s no longer around to reap the coming benefits.
Much of that hype is because of the finally-healthy, 7-2 Joel Embiid; maybe even more so than No. 1 pick Ben Simmons. After being forced to watch from the sidelines as he nursed one setback after another for the past two years, Embiid is whole, at last, and if the numerous workout videos that have surfaced are of any indication, the wait may be well worth it with the pieces coming together in Philly.
Simple workout video or not, it’s hard to refute Embiid’s skill-set and nifty handle and smooth shooting touch isn’t something you see on every man of his stature. Prior to his initial foot fracture just before the 2014 NBA Draft, Embiid looked to be the favorite for the No. 1 pick; providing the Sixers with two No. 1 pick caliber talents set to debut in October.
And of course, Simmons’ versatility speaks for itself; he’s essentially a 6-10 floor general that transforms seemingly every pass into a highlight and easy finish for teammates.
What’s better than one flashy facilitator? How about three? The arrivals of free agent Sergio Rodriguez and 2014 lottery pick Dario Saric finally leaving Croatia to become a Sixer, the collection of Simmons, Rodriguez and Saric led to BBallBreakdown’s Coach Nick creating a video in which he says the Sixers will be the most fun team in the NBA, while deeming Rodriguez the “European Steve Nash.”
Though it remains to be seen just how fun basketball in Philadelphia is next season, the Sixers should also have claim as one of the most unselfish units in the league, which will only encourage surrounding pieces like Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Richaun Holmes, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Jerami Grant to relentlessly run the floor.
More importantly, the Sixers look to be heading away from the label as a rotational revolving door with several potential building blocks in place and a handful or supporting talent worth keeping around. And for guys like Okafor, Noel, Grant and Holmes – all tremendously young talents with less than six full seasons of experience between them – another offseason of improvement should provide a noticeable on-court step forward.
Does this all mean the Sixers are ready to contend for a playoff spot? Unlikely. But as opposed to the last three seasons, the Sixers should be among the more entertaining teams in the NBA. That’s a step in the right direction, nonetheless.