Because ranking things is fun, the ESPN Forecast Panel (a non-exclusive group consisting of anyone who has ever driven past Bristol, CT) graded each NBA team's front office on a 0-to-10 scale. Surprisingly, the Philadelphia 76ers landed in the 24th spot with a composite score of 4.59.
We're firmly of the opinion that the ranking is too low, and there appears to be a couple of things at work here in the minds of the voters:
1) The ESPN Forecast Panel doesn't agree with Sam Hinkie's rebuilding plan.
2) People still can't let that whole Andrew Bynum thing go.
Yes... we're a Sixers-centric blog, but even without our biases, we know that the Sixers have a better front office than the Charlotte Bobcats (who finished 22nd with a score of 4.71). The rankings are the result of the Forecast Panel's rating of each NBA team's coach, president/GM, and owner (you can review the "logic" behind ESPN's rankings here), and it's obvious that their opinion of the Sixers' leadership group is markedly different than ours:
Front Office: All of the Philadelphia 76ers' basketball decisions begin and end with Sam Hinkie. While it's far too early to break out the anointing oil for the Sixers' GM, it's clear that Hinkie has an unwavering commitment to The Plan. And unlike the rudderless ship that preceded his tenure, Hinkie has a compass in his hand, Google Maps on his phone, and he's steadfastly committed to capturing every Pokemon he can find and/or winning an NBA championship.
Head Coach: None of us have any idea how good of a coach Brett Brown actually is, and we won't know until sometime next season (Spoiler alert: He's probably better than Detroit's John Loyer). Quite frankly, it's hard to accurately assess a man who has had to deal with a roster filled with cast-offs and glorified D-League players on 10-day contracts.
That said, Brown deserves points for installing the foundation of a sound offensive strategy in the midst of all of the chaos. Furthermore, he's molded Hollis Thompson into a decent NBA player, and he's ushered Michael Carter-Williams through most of his rookie season without the point guard completely disintegrating in front of our eyes.
Ownership: Joshua Harris has adopted somewhat of a laissez-faire approach as an owner - for the most part, he has pretty much let his basketball people do as they please. The problem was that for the first two years of his tenure, those "basketball people" - namely Rod Thorn, Tony DiLeo, Doug Collins - didn't make very many sound moves (in their defense, the Bynum deal wasn't a bad move in principle - it just didn't work out).
Last May, Harris cut his losses and handed the keys to one of the league's premier basketball minds in Sam Hinkie. Harris didn't become a multi-billionaire by making bad decisions, and his willingness to take a few lumps in the short term (i.e. decreased fan support/attendance) is evidence that he's fully invested in the long game.
A few other rankings of note:
San Antonio - 1st (9.45): A Hall of Fame coach? Check. A GM who is consistently able to draft talented players without the luxury of lottery picks? Check. A fiscally-sound owner who has financed four NBA championship teams without going over the luxury tax a single time? Check.
San Antonio is the gold standard in the Association - everyone else is playing for second place.
Brooklyn - 15th (5.39): Not entirely sure how the Nets ended up here, considering that their head coach is just as much of an unproven commodity as Brett Brown (let's not forget about the whole ice incident). Of course, there's also the matter of general manager Billy King: a man who has not only managed to rack up $70 million in luxury tax penalties this season, but has given away first-round picks as if they were Reese's Cups on Halloween.
(Editor's note: The above paragraph contained several references to Brooklyn Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Due to legal reasons, these paragraphs have been stricken from the article.)
New York - 30th (3.21): Yeah... this is about right.
So... what do you think? Did The Worldwide Leader get it right, or is the ESPN NBA Front Office Rank a bigger dumpster fire than 97% of our NCAA Tournament brackets?