Connect with us


A Very Expensive Process – Why the Sixers’ “process” starts and ends with Joel Embiid

Embiid is the key in bringing the 76ers into the promised land.

Imagine getting paid top dollar from a company and only being available to work a quarter of your tenure there. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? This is the most logical way to look at the serious cash dished out to Philadelphia Sixers center, Joel Embiid. Twitter was buzzing the day the news broke of Embiid’s new max contract extension of five years, $148 million. The question most asked was mainly: how an organization can pay a player, who in his three eligible seasons as a professional has only stepped on the court for 31 of those games? The answer is simple: he is “The Process”. A phrase that has been used at nauseam both internally within the Sixers organization and externally with the fan base.

The future of this franchise and the high expectations rest on Embiid’s presence. This is why his value is well worth the risk.

The legend of Sam Hinkie has grown amongst NBA fans, specifically in Philly. He has become a martyr of sorts because of his drastic teardown of the Sixers roster and the residual effects of his three-year tenure as General Manager. He is obviously credited for not only starting “The Process” but coining the phrase that has now become one of Twitter’s greatest hashtags. Tanking has always been a part of the NBA construct but Hinkie most definitely took it to another level. The nuclear explosion that he performed on that team when he first got there in 2012 is quite impressive, considering the state of the organization.

Think about that lockout-shortened 2012 team. The ceiling had been maxed out. Andre Iguodala, now Warrior super sub, was then the best player on a team. That same team had just been to the second round of the NBA playoffs. The Sixers were no doubt a respectable team, but they were dubbed as being in the NBA’s version of purgatory, better known as the second round treadmill. Not good enough to contend with the NBA’s elite, but not bad enough to reach the lottery fishing for a high draft pick. Enter Sam Hinkie! Move after move, Hinkie demolished a solid team with veteran players and turned them into a team that was unrecognizable. Even for the biggest of NBA fans, it was a nightly challenge to name the players on the floor for the Sixers.

Year after year starting from 2013, Philly had the pleasure of picking high in the draft. The team was bad, and there was no reason to watch the Sixers on a nightly basis. In the 2014 NBA draft, in the midst of all the losing, the organization once again continued with the process of trying to find a difference-maker. And with the 3rd pick of the 2014 NBA draft the Philadelphia 76ers took Joel Embiid.

There were as many questions about his durability then as there is now. After only playing one year in Kansas, Joel Embiid played 28 games, but there was always an injury issue with him during his freshman season. He missed the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament because of a stress fracture in his back. The bad luck continued. Embiid had to have foot surgery that caused him to miss his full rookie year. The luck didn’t get any better when he suffered a setback on his foot and had to have another surgery that led him to miss the 2015-2016 season as well.

At that point, “The Process” was a budding joke around the league. The daily jokes of Embiid sitting on the bench in street clothes sipping on his favorite drink, Shirley Temples, permeated throughout social media. It didn’t help that the team was winning less than 20 games a season during that time period. Coach Brett Brown is going to have to record a few 60 win seasons to even get close to .500 on his coaching record.

The conversation around the 2014 draft about Joel Embiid was his potential. Potential is an obvious word when it comes to the draft. When comparing him to the two players who were picked before him, there was talk that his upside was the greatest. In case you forgot, those two were Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Scouts and talent evaluators marveled at his defense as well as his offense. He drew comparisons to the great Hakeem Olajuwon. Embiid finally got the opportunity to show that potential last season. After two years of being inactive, he took the floor and from the start it was an eye-popping experience. All the jokes about him came to a resounding halt after his first game. The season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder last year did a fantastic job setting the stage for his exposure to the basketball universe.

The platform was provided; a nationally televised ESPN game. All eyes were naturally on Thunder star Russell Westbrook to see how he would play in his first game without Kevin Durant. What was supposed to be a one man spectacle with Westbrook turned into a two man battle. Joel Embiid finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds. Somewhat pedestrian numbers, but not for a player who up until that point had more tweets than he did games played. Every game since then, he provided flashes that got the entire fan base excited. Even with the team struggling to win games, he provided a nightly reason to check out Sixers game.

The fact that not only fans of the Sixers, but NBA fans as a whole, wanted to turn on and follow the Sixers was solely a function of Embiid’s presence. As his season ended after only 31 games, the Center left an indelible impression to the basketball universe.

His personality also became infectious and likeable. In an era where social media is prevalent, Joel Embiid is king. The nightly tweets from him became a viral sensation on Twitter and Instagram. Whether it be him making a joke about other players around the league or providing social commentary within pop culture, he became a very popular athlete. The same tweets that came off as annoying when he had yet to play an NBA game had now made him wildly popular. This is also important because it is a space where the NBA thrives. Having your stars active on social media and giving the fans something to banter about is almost as important as selling endorsement. And for a franchise that hasn’t had a player that can move the needle since Allen Iverson, that’s vital.

Entering this upcoming season, the Sixers have becoming the trendy pick to take a major leap. With the fortunes of drafting number one the past two years, expectations have risen. Ben Simmons has impressed during the preseason. Although Markelle Fultz has slightly struggled, there is still much promise to his game. Both players have high ceilings and that is important because that’s the best direction toward championship contention down the road. Embiid does have the highest ceiling and potential impact of all the young players on the team. A 7-footer who can defend the paint, dominate on the block as well as shoot three pointers is a Unicorn.

This is why the $148 million max contract is well worth the risk. Joel Embiid is a once and a generational talent. In an era of superteams, you need that type of player. There are obviously risks, the biggest one being his durability. Even with an increase in talent on the roster, the hopes of one day contending with the NBA’s elite hinges on Embiid and his presence. Still, with all the risk, this type of player with a combination of otherworldly talent and charming charisma is rare. ” Trust The Process” is a slogan that was once a league wide punchline, but now is a realistic beacon of hope. The man who likes to call himself “The Process” is now much richer, but also the major key to positive results.

The following two tabs change content below.
Hill is a Staff Writer for
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Basketball