The Sixers lost to the Celtics 98-78 in their preseason opener on Monday. Nerlens Noel fouled out, and was all-around terrible (2-of-9, 4 turnovers), Henry Sims was even worse (3-15), and ex-Sixer Evan Turner was arguably the best player on the court (15 points, 10 boards, 6 assists).
Wrong. None of that should matter. It’s the preseason, and it’s one game, without Michael-Carter Williams. It’s a tiny piece of relatively meaningless data. But that didn’t stop anti-Hinkite commenter Buke from jumping to conclusions and offering this scorching hot take on the thread of the DepressedFan.com Sixers blog.
Take it away, Buke (parentheses mine):
After watching tonight’s game, I can’t think of any good reason to disagree with you (re: commenter eddies’ heady’s anti-Hinkie remarks). Boston looks like it might be one of the weaker teams in the league, but at least they are a marginal NBA team. The Sixers aren’t even that. In the long run, the team may demonstrate that we are unduly pessimistic, but that won’t happen for some time.
Notice that there isn’t a peep tonight from the Hinkie “plan” enthusiasts. Apparently only us skeptics watched. Reality basketball isn’t nearly as much fun for them as fantasy basketball.
I should note that there’s typically plenty of good insight in the DepressedFan.com threads. Also, Buke’s view here isn’t the consensus, even among the Hinkie skeptics.
But this isn’t some isolated rant. It’s one of many you’ll see from a certain segment of the Sixers fan base – and while some takes are hotter than others, they all use the same formula: have a hypothesis, seek evidence in support, ignore counter-evidence, and draw a conclusion.
Buke’s hypothesis: Sixers are doomed. Evidence: They were blown out in a preseason game. Ignored counter-evidence: MCW was out. The game was close through three quarters. Conclusion: Hinkie’s plan won’t work.
Here, let’s try it again, this time with the Hasheem Thabeet trade. On Aug. 26, the Sixers gave a trade exception and a protected second-round pick (likely relinquished) to the Thunder in exchange for cash and the 7-foot-3 career backup center. This was a nothing deal; Philly grabbed a few extra bucks and OKC got a little cap relief. Everybody wins.
But that’s not the way Brian Ward, who runs Depressed Fan, saw it.
In a vacuum, this isn’t a big deal at all. Neither is using the #12 pick on a guy who you won’t have to pay for two years, or passing on a number of deals that would’ve netted you the same thing as trading your best player when all it would’ve cost is some of the cap space you aren’t going to use anyway, or choosing to build your practice facility across the river for tax credits.
In a vacuum, none of those things are a big deal. When one team has done all of those things in the past six months…well, what do you make of it? You all know where I stand.
Ward’s hypothesis: Josh Harris is in it for the money. Evidence: He acquired cash, cut player. Ignored counter-evidence: Thabeet is terrible. Conclusion: Management isn’t prioritizing winning.
It happens with every transaction, and not just on the DepressedFan thread. The Sixers dealt Thad Young because they don’t care about the fans. Dario Saric/Joel Embiid were drafted because they want to win the 2015 lottery. Harris is a hedge fund guy, so this is all a conspiracy to get the team to New Jersey.
And it happens the other way around, too. In some places, including here, the Hinkie support borders on blind worship. The Sixers GM was praised for trading Turner for acquiring a second-rounder; the former no. 2 pick was a bust, but he was averaging 17 points. The return there was laughable. Likewise, the organization was lauded on draft night, perhaps to a fault. Take the Joel Embiid selection. Here at Hoop76, we had him sixth in our mock draft. The foot and back injuries scared the shit out of us. But much of that skepticism disappeared the second the seven-foot Cameroonian’s name was called on draft night.
Hypothesis: Sixers are building a winner. Evidence: Embiid is bound for stardom. Ignored counter-evidence: Serious health concerns. Conclusion: Embiid was the right pick.
Yes, we think that management knows what it is doing. But also, we want to think that management knows what it is doing. We trust the rationale of Harris, Hinkie, and Brown, and co. We’re on the bandwagon.
This type of thinking, at its worst, can be just as faulty as Buke’s, and that of the Hinkie haters.
This isn’t to say that any of these hypotheses – Hinkie is a fool, Embiid is the next Hakeem – are wrong. But we haven’t tested them. The experiment may run through 2025. It’ll take some time. We don’t know.
What we do know is that last night, the Sixers earned their first preseason victory, beating the Charlotte Hornets 106-92. Noel had a KG-esque stat line (10 points, 9 rebs, 3 assists, 3 blocks), Wroten ran the offense efficiently (15 points, 6 rebs, 7 assists), and even Elliot Williams looked good (3-5 3pt). This is, indeed, a promising core. If your glass is half full, you already knew that.