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Jan 28 2016

Sam Hinkie’s Second-Round Success Rate Is Pedestrian, And That’s OK

Sam Hinkie’s insatiable thirst for second-round picks has been a defining characteristic of his tenure as Philadelphia 76ers general manager, and rightfully so.

In three drafts, he’s already been on the clock 12 times in the second round, and he acquired six second-rounders at the 2014 trade deadline alone (see below).

Incoming Outgoing
2/20/2014 Byron Mullens
2018 2nd (LAC)
2014 2nd (protected 31-40 and 46-60)
2/20/2014 Danny Granger
2015 2nd (GSW via IND)
Evan Turner
Lavoy Allen
2/20/2014 Eric Maynor
2015 2nd (WAS)
2016 2nd (DEN)
2014 2nd (protected 31-45 and 51-60)
2/20/2014 Earl Clark
Henry Sims
2014 2nd (CLE)
2014 2nd (MEM via CLE)
Spencer Hawes

That was just the start. Within the 2014 calendar year, Hinkie acquired an additional six second-round picks and two second-round pick swaps spread out over the next half-decade, all the while surrendering little in terms of long-term assets. It was a master class in using cap space to absorb unwanted contracts, gaining valuable assets in return.

Here’s a look at how each of those deals played out:

Incoming Outgoing
6/26/2014 Jordan McRae (No. 58)
Cory Jefferson (No. 60)
Nemanja Dangubic (No. 54)
6/26/2014 Dario Saric (No. 12)
2015 2nd (ORL)
2017 1st (PHI via ORL)
Elfrid Payton (No. 10)
9/27/2014 Keith Bogans
2018 2nd (CLE)
2015 2nd (protected 31-50, 56-60)
10/24/2014 Marquis Teague
2019 2nd (more favorable of MIL/SAC)
Casper Ware
10/27/2014 Travis Outlaw
2018 2nd swap w/ NYK
2019 2nd (NYK)
Arnett Moultrie
12/11/2014 Andrei Kirilenko
Jorge Gutierrez
2018 2nd swap w/ BKN
2020 2nd (BKN)
Brandon Davies
12/23/2014 Ronny Turiaf
Rights to Sergei Lishouk
2014 2nd (HOU)
Alexey Shved

The TL;DR version: Hinkie acquired TWELVE second-rounders and two second-round pick swaps in a 10-month span, and then one more (No. 37, 2015) in the K.J. McDaniels-Isaiah Canaan exchange.

Acquiring a preposterous number of second-round picks is helpful, albeit not difficult to do when disregarding wins. But turning those picks into productive pieces is another matter entirely.

Hinkie’s second-round results have been mixed. Just two of his 12 picks —Jerami Grant (No. 39 in 2014) and Richaun Holmes (No. 37 in 2015)—remain on the roster. Five of the 12 were international prospects who haven’t yet come to the NBA, although Hinkie proceeded to trade four of those five, leaving just the rights to Vasilije Micic (No. 52 in 2014) under the Sixers’ control.

In one sense, having just two players remaining after 12 second-round picks within the past three drafts isn’t a ringing endorsement of this strategy. Then again, considering the bust rate of second-rounders—according to analysis Roland Beech did for 82games.com, only one pick outside the top 30 has greater than a 15 percent chance of even being a “solid” player—Hinkie’s batting average of 16.7 percent is right around as expected.

Among all of the second-round picks drafted across the league since 2013, Grant and Holmes rank 10th and 12th, respectively, in terms of career win shares. Both are on track to surpass the amount of win shares expected from players in their draft slots over their first four seasons, according to a 2009 analysis which Justin Kubatko posted on Basketball-Reference. Players selected 39th overall average 3.4 win shares through their first four seasons, while those selected 37th average 3.8. Through a season-and-a-half, Grant has accrued 2.2 win shares, while Holmes is already up to 1.4 halfway through his rookie campaign.

Though the win shares totals of all Sixers second-rounders are inflated based on the comparably large amount of playing time they receive, both Grant and Holmes look like legitimate long-term NBA contributors. Neither may be much more than a role player off the bench for a contender, but having those guys locked up on dirt-cheap four-year deals (the so-called “Hinkie Special”) gives the Sixers additional financial flexibility when they begin to discuss extensions for their prized lottery picks and/or dip their toes into the free-agent market.

Those second-rounders aren’t just conduits to gamble on potential draft-day steals, however. They represent valuable currency on the trade market, too. The Sixers moved the 2016 second-rounder they acquired from Denver two seasons ago as part of the package to reacquire Ish Smith on Christmas Eve. They likewise included two of their second-round picks from this past June, Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic, in the deal with Sacramento that netted them Nik Stauskas, two possible first-round pick swaps in 2016 and 2017 and the Kings’ top-10-protected first-round pick in 2018. Accruing such a bountiful treasure trove of second-rounders gives Hinkie and Co. optionality on the trade market, which has already paid off in dividends in the form of Smith.

Draft Pick  Selected Status
2013, No. 35 Glen Rice Traded to WAS
2013, No. 42 Pierre Jackson Traded to NOP; waived
2014, No. 32 K.J. McDaniels Traded to HOU
2014, No. 39 Jerami Grant On Sixers
2014, No. 47 Russ Smith Traded to NOP
2014, No. 52 Vasilije Micic Abroad – PHI rights
2014, No. 54 Nemanja Dangubic Abroad – traded to SAS
2015, No. 35 Willy Hernangomez Abroad – traded to NYK
2015, No. 37 Richaun Holmes On Sixers
2015, No. 47 Arturas Gudaitis Abroad – Traded to SAC
2015, No. 58 J.P. Tokoto Waived
2015, No. 60 Luka Mitrovic Abroad – Traded to SAC

Ultimately, optionality is what the “Process” is all about. Acquiring a number of first- and second-round picks decreases the pressure to hit a home run with each one. If Jahlil Okafor proves to be a solid double rather than a grand slam (like Kristaps Porzingis appears to be), so be it. If Joel Embiid never plays a minute for the Sixers, it will represent an undeniable setback for the rebuild, but it won’t be the franchise-crippling abomination that the Andrew Bynum trade wound up becoming. Between the first-round picks owed to them from the Lakers, Heat, Thunder and Kings and the preposterous number of second-round picks headed their way through the early 2020s, the Sixers have no shortage of assets to dangle in front of potential trade partners over the coming seasons.

Much like the overall organizational strategy, it’s simply too early to cast definitive judgment on Hinkie’s track record with second-round picks. Those who criticize him for finding just two keepers among 12 chances are willfully ignoring how many of those other selections he flipped in later deals. Those praising him for unearthing diamonds in the rough such as McDaniels, Grant and Holmes can’t turn a blind eye to some of the productive players he overlooked (Jeff Withey, Nikola Jokic, Dwight Powell and Jordan Clarkson, in particular).

Considering how little Hinkie has given up to acquire such a wealth of second-rounders, it’s difficult to find fault with his approach. The verdict simply remains out on his success rate in the second round, especially since he has yet to make use of a majority of the picks he’s acquired in the past two-and-a-half years.

  • Evan

    Really interested to see more of Holmes. I was bummed about letting Thomas Robinson go last year, but Holmes has made me completely forget about him. Holmes might not be a great rebounder, but he has shown some really high upside offensively and defensively. His arms are so long that he doesn’t even look like a proportional human being, its amazing. Wish he would get some more playing time (considering how efficient he has been in limited time), but I am happy with the pick so far.

    • Robby Bonfire

      Holmes is outstanding, as an efficiency shooter, one of the best in the NBA, but of course we need to see more of this over an extended period of time. The D part of the equation stands for “defective,” he needs to work on his all-around game, but if and when he at least gets the D part of his game up to par, he could be the star player on this team, going forward.

  • larrytate

    Nerlens Noel, Isaiah Canaan, Jeremi Grant, Micic, Stauskas, a future first round draft pick, SAC draft swaps for two years, an extra 2nd round draft pick, Richuan Holmes were all part of Hinkie’s 2nd round bounty. On the negative ledger is Pierre Jackson and J.P. Tokoto and missing on Nikola Jokic.