Written by: Vincent Page – Staff Writing Intern (@)
I became a Philadelphia 76ers fan three years ago. I was beginning to fall in love with basketball and needed a team. However, I did not want to choose a hometown team not bandwagon onto a team. So I decided between the worst teams in basketball at the time. When I had gotten down to the final two, the 76ers and the Timberwolves, I decided why not go with Philadelphia? They had just picked Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, they were going to be great! And this Croatian Dario Saric seemed pretty good.
I spent the next two seasons regretting my decision as the Timberwolves had Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns tear up the court on a nightly basis. Meanwhile I was stuck with Jahlil Okafor’s two-decades-too-late playing style and off court issues. That was next to Noel’s nonexistent jumper, Embiid’s lengthy rehab, and Saric’s overseas “is he coming is he not” drama. The most excited I was the past three years was watching I drafted point guard TJ McConnell make his way to the team and become a reliable playmaker.
Then the 2016 off-season took place. We selected Ben Simmons first overall to run the point. Dario Saric came over. Joel Embiid played basketball. Okafor stayed out of trouble. Noel worked on his jumper.
Then Simmons broke his foot. Then Noel still didn’t have a jumper. Then Okafor was kept out of games because of trade rumors. Meanwhile Embiid was phenomenal. Saric was phenomenal. The 76ers were a quality basketball team. Then Embiid got shut down. The Simmons got shut down. And now here we are. No longer chanting “Trust the Process” to the haters, but asking ourselves, as 76ers fans, “Trust the process?”.
I for one, have been asking myself this. My friends have also been antagonizing me with it as I’ll admit to being one of the most proud Process fans the past few years. I’ve trusted it like I trust my mother. However, this is new.
It makes me think of the 2015 draft. The Lakers jumped the 76ers to get the second pick. They took D’angelo Russell, a player I was absolutely in love with, while the Sixers landed Okafor. Looking back, imagining if the balls worked in Philadelphia’s favor, they would have landed Russel instead. I think everyone agrees that while he isn’t a superstar (yet), Russell is a much better NBA player than Okafor.
He would also fit into the 76ers future perfectly as a point guard who can flourish off the ball while Simmons and Embiid demand touches. Hopefully the lottery gods will do the 76ers a favor and have them land a few spaces higher (Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz sure would look good in Philly) and have the Lakers pick land outside the top three, as it would then turn over to the 76ers.
To answer this question shortly, yes. I, along with every Sixers fan out there, should Trust The Process. Maybe I’m saying that because I love it, maybe I’m saying that because I love the idea of it. Let me break it down. Let me put it this way. It’s like you’re in a relationship, and you hear rumors that your significant other has been cheating on you. Are you going to trust them 100%? That’s how I feel towards The Process.
The Sixers are in great shape. They have two soon-to-be stars in Embiid and Simmons. They have great complimentary pieces like Saric. They have also been so set on playing younger guys over veterans the past few seasons that they’ve discovered some diamonds in the rough. Robert Covington came to the Sixers as an incredibly raw 3-and-D player. He now has an amazing three-point stroke.
McConnell has gone from an undrafted, below-average athlete to a starting point guard by facilitating the offense and hitting game-winning shots. The next in line for this treatment could be Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. A late first round pick, many experts believed he had one of the highest ceilings in the draft, but due to that being paired with one of the lowest floors, he fell to the 76ers. He has been getting increased playing time and has slowly but surely been improving. The 76ers are sure to draft a wing in the draft, but if not Luwau-Cabarrot could be their starting shooting guard come next season.
However, what makes me do double takes when it comes to The Process, is Bryan Colangelo. The heir to Process revolutionary Sam Hinkie, Colangelo has not impressed so far in his role. Yeah, he drafted Ben Simmons. Who wouldn’t? This was one of the worst classes in recent history, and Simmons stood out among the rest by a mile. I was enthusiastic about the trade deadline. It was looking like the team would trade Okafor for a first rounder, keep Noel, and trade dispensable pieces for whatever they can get. However, I was utterly disappointed come the trade deadline.
Trading Ersan Ilyasova was smart, and the return on him (two second rounders) seems about right. However, trading Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks for what is going to be two second rounders? That’s when I started to not trust Colangelo. Then reports start coming out that he had better trades two days prior. Then another saying the Pelicans offered the same package they sent for Demarcus Cousins except for Buddy Hield. That’s a first round pick for a guy that is stuck in 20th century basketball. At least Noel can defend, Okafor has nothing but a good post game.
The only reason I hesitate to say that I don’t trust the process is Colangelo. He has shown in the past he can make it happen (he was general manager of the Suns dynasty in the 2000’s) but ever since he’s joined his dad in Philadelphia, all he has done is show that he’s scared to pull the trigger. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past three years of being a Philadelphia 76ers fan, it’s that you have to Trust The Process. Take note, Colangelo.