We are nearing the NBA All-Star break as well as the potential return of the 2017 number one draft pick, Markelle Fultz. Lately, many fans and sports media alike are beginning to become impatient with this year’s most recent addition to The Process in Philadelphia. Some are even concluding that Markelle is a bust, already.
The Philadelphia 76ers have forced the basketball fans inside of their city to be patient with the teams progression. For the most part, Philadelphia fans have not only accepted the past few years of losing, but even expanded their interest and want for a winning basketball team. The Sixers set organization records this year in season ticket sales all due to The Process.
In 2012, the Sixers sneaked their way into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the eighth seed and reluctantly defeated the Chicago Bulls in the opening round only because of Derrick Rose’s torn ACL. The 2012-2013 season was even worse as the 76ers found themselves on the outside of the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the nine-seed with only 34 wins that season.
Since the 2003-2004 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers have only peaked as high as the six-seed in the Eastern Conference and only reaching the Eastern Conference Semi Finals twice. This led to the infamous beginning to what is now known as The Process in the NBA world.
From the 2013-2014 season until this past season, the Process has led to a horrific 75-253 record for the 76ers. The 76ers became a comedy show for the NBA, averaging only 19 wins per season and displaying some of the worst basketball in NBA history. This was all apart of a well-thought plan devised by former General Manager and President of Basketball Operations, Sam Hinkie.
The Process has led to seven first round draft picks for the Sixers in the last four years including four lottery picks, two of which being the number one draft pick. These draft picks have been headlined by Joel Embiid and Dario Saric in 2014, Ben Simmons in 2016, and Markelle Fultz this past year.
Every single one of the pieces to The Process have been delayed to show that this Process was worth it. It took Dario Saric two years to even come to the United States, Joel Embiid sat out two years with a never ending foot injury as well as the end of last year’s season with a knee injury, Ben Simmons also had a foot injury delay him an entire year, and possibly weirdest of all, Markelle Fultz has missed the last 36 games with a shoulder injury. Along with this shoulder injury, Fultz has appeared to lose his jump shot or have his own basketball form of the yips some baseball players get.
The Process has finally shown us it’s potential. Joel Embiid is a force offensively and defensively, averaging 23.8 points and 10.8 rebounds this year as well as being a wall down low in the paint. Ben Simmons leads the way for Rookie of the Year and has clearly shown ability to become a star in the NBA, averaging 16.8 points, 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists. Dario Saric has quietly become a versatile forward willing to do anything to help this team.
The Process has also attracted talent from free agency in it’s early stages. The 2017 NBA off-season led to the free agent signing of J.J. Redick to join the Process. Redick provides exactly what the Sixers were missing with his ability to shoot and he has averaged 17.3 points per game so far this season.
Markelle Fultz will provide a lot more offense when healthy. It will be interesting to see if Coach Brett Brown will try to find Fultz a spot within the starting lineup or utilize the number one pick off the bench. Either way, Fultz will add another very athletic guard who has proven ability to drive as well as the ability to shoot the midrange jumper.
The Sixers currently sit at .500 on the season, 20-20. Right now they are the 9-seed in the Eastern Conference and arguably survived the toughest part of their schedule without their number one draft pick.
Soon enough, Markelle Fultz will be back in the 76ers lineup and proving his talents to all of his doubters. Joel Embiid will be playing back-to-back nights with no minute restrictions. The Process will also be a very attractive for the star-studded 2018 Free Agency class headlined by Lebron James and player options by Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant.
The Process is only beginning in Philadelphia, don’t hop off of it now.