Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie held a 40-minute press conference in Friday to discuss trading away two of his team’s post productive players for future draft picks at the trade deadline.
The Sixers under Hinkie are the most radical experiment in the American sports. Since he took over after the 2013 season, he has traded away the teams best players, refused to sign free agents, spent as little money as possible, drafted players who are injured or overseas, and hoarded picks through an unceasing series of trades.
It’s blatantly anticompetitive on a night-to-night basis, and a lot of people — NBA fans and otherwise — hate it.
At his press conference, Hinkie explained his thinking.
He said that the only way to win an NBA title is to have a team that can win 55+ games every year. And the only way to have a team that can win 55+ games every year is to get great players. And the only way to get great players is to have enough picks to either 1) draft a great player, or 2) put together a trade package for a great player that can help you make a “big leap.”
Here’s what he said when asked why he doesn’t try to get a little bit better ever year:
“What we look at is, how do we add to what we’re doing in a way that gets us closer to our goal? We don’t think that it will necessarily be linear — that every year you will add five wins and after 10 years you will get to 50. That’s not the way we think about the world. We think that it comes at fits and starts, and you have to be prepared to put yourself in a position that you might be able to make big leaps.”
Here’s how he described the overarching philosophy of how you win in the NBA:
“We’re focused on how to put the building blocks in place that have a chance to compete in May. Those teams win in the high-50s. They don’t win in the teens and they don’t add two or three wins a year and they don’t add a win a month for a little while to try and get to where they’re going. They get all the way to the 50s. And they get there usually on the backs of great players. We are still — as much as I’ve talked about how we make decisions and as much as I’ve talked about our organizational goals and our player development — it is a players-driven league, still. When we have a set of players that can carry us deep, that’s the only way, that’s the only way to get where we’re going.”
A central component of the plan is acquiring draft picks. The Sixers can have as many as four picks top-20 picks in the 2015 draft.
Hinkie said part of the reason he hoards picks is that the draft is fundamentally a crapshoot. You can’t draft better than the rest of the NBA, but you can more often than the rest of the NBA:
“We will not bat a thousands on every single draft pick. We also have them by the bushelful, in part, because of that. We don’t have any hubris that we will get them all right. We’re not certain that we have an enormous edge over anybody else. In some cases, we might not have an edge at all.”
Hinkie is only trying to build a championship-level team. He’s not interested in building a team that can make the playoffs, or even win a series or two. He wants a juggernaut, even if it means Philly is the worst team in the NBA for a few years.
When asked when he’ll know when the rebuilding process is complete and he has the right players in place, Hinkie responded ominously, “We’ll all know. We’ll all know.”
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