For the first time in the better part of a decade, the Sixers will begin the regular season with what is primarily a finished product.

It was August 2012.  The Andrew Bynum era was about to dawn after the blockbuster trade that sent Andre Iguodala packing and landed the Sixers what they thought was a young cornerstone superstar.  The plan was to pair him with a young budding star point guard, Jrue Holiday, and surround them with shooters (see Nick Young and Dorrel Wright). Coach Doug Collins envisioned Spencer Hawes serving as a poor man’s Pau Gasol to help spread the floor.  Thad Young and Evan Turner were hoped to be additional young versatile pieces of the puzzle. Optimism was everywhere throughout Philadelphia as the regular season approached. 

Unfortunately, that optimism never saw the light of day.  In acquiring Bynum, the Sixers’ medical staff apparently did not realize that knee cartilage was a necessary part of an NBA player’s body.  The most enduring memory of the Bynum era was a slew of hairstyles and a 34-48 record.  Less than a year later, coach Doug Collins and general manager Tony DiLeo were gone.


On May 14, 2013, the Sixers hired Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations Sam Hinke as their new general manager.  At his introductory press conference, Hinke said, “We talk a lot about process—not outcome—and trying to consistently take all the best information you can and consistently make good decisions. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but you reevaluate them all.” Hence, “The Process” – and the trusting (or not) of it – was born.

In the six-plus years since its advent, “The Process” has gone through many twists and turns.  It has been hailed as everything from an ingenious and revolutionary way to rebuild a franchise, to being the greatest scourge on the sanctity of North American sports.  Love it or hate it, the reality of “The Process” is that it is now complete. Some argue that The Process will never be complete until, and unless, the Sixers win a championship.

The more hardened Process haters might argue that the Process was so awful that no amount of championships can wash away the stain.  The reality is that from the outset, the purpose of The Process was to build a championship contender and by any reasonable metric that is exactly what the Sixers now are.  No further evidence is necessary than the current championship odds out of Las Vegas. The Sixers sit at 8-1 odds to win the NBA title.  That ties them with Houston for the fourth-best odds behind only the Clippers, Lakers and Bucks.  They also sit in the top-three for over/under win total.  

More hardened process haters might argue that the down years of “The Process” were such an abomination that no amount of success or championships can wash away the stain.  Here is just a little taste of some of the more recognizable process haters: This is just the tip of the iceberg of the hate that has been spewed at the concept of “The Process.” But was “The Process” truly such an abomination? Were the Sixers really that awful compared to the other 29 NBA teams?  How about we take a look at it by comparing the Sixers relative success and failure over the past six seasons to the rest of the league, and then take stock of the current state of the Sixers compared to the league.


Entire NBA

Playoff Appearances

Since the inception of The Process, the Sixers have made two playoff appearances.  Nineteen teams have made more, three teams have also had two, and seven teams have had one or none.  By this metric, the Sixers outperform or are equal to 34% of other teams.

2nd Round Playoff Appearances

The Sixers have two appearances here during The Process era.  The rest of the league? Only eight teams have more second-round playoff experiences.  Five teams also have two. Seven teams have one appearance and nine teams have not appeared in the second round.  By this metric, the Sixers outperform or are equal to 72% of other teams.

Conference Finals Appearances

The Sixers have obviously not yet appeared in a Conference Final during The Process years.  That puts the Sixers on even footing with 19 other teams or 66% of the league.

Finals Appearances

In the past six seasons, only five teams have made an NBA Finals appearance: Warriors (5), Cavs (4), Spurs, Heat, and Raptors one apiece.  The Sixers and 24 other teams, or 83% of the league, have not yet made a Finals appearance during The Process seasons.

Championships

In the six seasons since the inception of The Process, four teams have won the NBA title.  The Warriors (3), Spurs, Cavaliers, and Raptors. No title for the Sixers and 25 other teams, 86%, as well.

50-Win Seasons

The Sixers are now proud owners of two of these.  How many teams have more than two 50-win years in the past six seasons?  The answer is seven. In fact, there are only four other teams that even equal the Sixers at two 50-win seasons.  That puts the Sixer performance equal to or better than 76%, seems appropriate, of the league.


Conclusions

Each of these metrics represents different levels of winning, which is the measure of success by which all professional sports teams are ultimately judged. And since the dawn of The Process, the Sixers have had far more success than the vast majority of NBA teams in each of these metrics with the exception of playoff appearances.  Even there, the Sixers have still outperformed a third of the league.  

The most hardened Process haters will likely view this as nothing more than an exercise in the manipulation of numbers.  They might argue that the four non-playoff Process seasons could never be worth the success that has followed. Those people would be wise to ask themselves what other NBA rosters they would prefer to have than the Sixers have headed into the 2019-20 season.  If they name more than one or two teams (and even that many is highly debatable) they just are not being honest with themselves.


“The Process” is over, and it was without question a success.  If you don’t believe it, try heading to Sacramento, Phoenix, New York or most any other NBA city and ask their fans if they would like to trade their past six seasons and current team for the Sixers and their “Process”. 

Photo: via reddit.com
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