Sam Hinkie’s Process made sense on paper. Get young, lose, draft high, repeat until the 76ers stockpiled enough talent to surge forward with a clean cap sheet.
But the Process didn’t unfold on paper, and there was always a catch. What damage would years of losing do to the organization and the real people within it?
We know some of the fallout. The Process embarrassed ownership, leading to Hinkie’s ouster. It also – according to Hinkie’s replacement, Bryan Colangelo, – created a toxic environment.
Colangelo, via The Vertical Podcast with Woj:
Really, factually, there was a losing culture. There was a losing mindset.
It had been ingrained partly because of the undertaking of rebuilding that they had been going through. And it’s a byproduct of the rebuilding process, if you will. You’re going to lose some games along the way, and it becomes part of the fabric of the team and the organization.
And I think more than anything the mindset needed to shift. The mindset needed to change. And that’s why we’ve been talking about winning and doing everything to promote winning, promote a culture of excellence, to promote better thought process in everything.
Keep in mind, the worse the 76ers are perceived at the time Colangelo took over, the better he’ll look.
But there was real evidence of a bad culture – from Jahlil Okafor‘s fighting to Joel Embiid‘s coachability to Nerlens Noel‘s tardiness. Players knew maximum focus and effort wouldn’t result in winning anyway, so that made it easier for bad habits to develop. Those bad habits can be contagious. Try as he might, coach Brett Brown couldn’t stem the tide.
Colangelo is trying to go a different way, bringing in veterans like Elton Brand, Gerald Henderson and Jerryd Bayless. Philadelphia won’t have as many roster spots for young players with upside, and those vets occupy cap space. But, right or wrong, Colangelo identified a problem and is trying to fix it.