ESPN.com revealed their annual front office rankings Tuesday morning, and the Sixers ranked 20th this year, up four spots from 24th in last year's rankings.
Philadelphia was also given an average rating of 5.15 on a scale of 1-10, based off of ESPN's panel that rated each organization's owners, basketball decision makers, and coach. In comparison to other divisional opponents, the Boston Celtics ranked 7th, the Toronto Raptors ranked 11th, and the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks came in at 29th and 30th, respectively.
Where the Sixers are ranked doesn't really surprise me given the media's hesitance to support their direction, but you can make a case for them to be higher.
Owner Joshua Harris should be pretty close to a ten on that scale, based on what he's done thus far. He bought the team from a group that essentially put the Sixers on the back burner, and kicked out the old, math-phobic regime. Harris brought in a forward thinking general manager in Sam Hinkie, and has essentially given him complete control to institute "the plan". Hard to find too many owners throughout sports in general that would be comfortable with waiting multiple seasons before beginning to contend.
Harris is also doing everything he can to make Philadelphia a viable option for big name free agents down the road, with the state of the art practice facility in Camden being his biggest splash.
The basketball decision makers category is likely where the Sixers lost a couple points, and that's to be expected. The team has a lot of future assets, but not a whole lot of tangible ones, which has rather clearly scared away media members over the past two years. Whether they're right or the Hinkie stans are right, only time will tell, but it's hard to argue against what he's done thus far. His moves have been very cap savvy, and has gotten Philadelphia some rather impressive future picks via trade. The concern comes in as to what he'll do with those picks.
In regards to coach, I would hope Brett Brown is as highly regarded throughout the league as he is in Philadelphia. He's taken a motley crew of NBA throwaways, and turned them into one of the better defending teams in the league. That certainly has to stand for something.
Regardless, these rankings shouldn't be taken too seriously, although it's nice that ESPN has recognized the progress the team has made.