Before he resigned as the Philadelphia 76ers general manager on April 6, Sam Hinkie's last official order of business was to re-sign rookie power forward Christian Wood for the remainder of the 2015-16 regular season. The move had little meaning from an on-court standpoint, but Hinkie left the organization the same way he came in: signing a young player with raw skills and a lot of potential.
There are pieces of the process littered throughout the Sixers current roster, but from the bunch of misfit toys, T.J. McConnell and Robert Covington seem like the only two who have really emerged as guys with futures in the NBA. Hollis Thompson and Isaiah Canaan are players we've probably seen enough of to know that they'd be hard pressed to find a role on a results oriented team. The jury should still be out on Wood, the last piece of the process.
Why Wood struggled to find minutes on this team -- especially at the end of the season when the roster was so depleted by injuries that Elton Brand is logging around 20 minutes a night -- is puzzling, but he showed off some very obvious talent when he did hit the floor. What he lacks in polished play he makes up for in effort, hounding the low block for rebounds and cleaning up missed shot attempts. He's flashed potential in extending his range out to the three-point line in a rather small sample size, and from what he's shown during his time in Philadelphia, UNLV and the D-League, I truthfully have more hope for him becoming a perimeter shooting threat than Jerami Grant.
Wood's size and athleticism is a solid model for what teams are looking for in a stretch four, but his game needs a couple years of molding before he really starts to tap into the potential that made many view him as a first-round talent just one year ago. The Sixers under Sam Hinkie may have been willing to bring back Wood on a cheap contract in hopes of being the franchise able to harness his talent, but with Bryan Colangelo in charge, who knows.
One of the main concepts Colangelo has pushed to the public thus far is "accelerating the process", which makes it sound like the team will be moving on from project players and turning to guys who have already established themselves in the league. If that's the case, it likely means the end of Wood's Sixers career.
With Joel Embiid expected to finally make his NBA debut next year, plus the expected returns of Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Richaun Holmes and possibly Carl Landry, there's not a ton of room for Philadelphia to go out and sign (or even draft) front court players. Because of that, an argument could be made for keeping Wood as your 15th man while sending him down to Delaware to continue to work on his game. As Philadelphia begins to throw copious amounts of money at premier players, they're going to need to find some cap dandies at the end of the roster. Wood has the talent to become one of those guys.
If Philadelphia is still willing to exhibit some patience and bring Christian Wood along over the next year or two, they might find themselves with a cheap, efficient power forward who can extend defenses. It all depends on how quickly the Sixers new regime insists on moving past the process status, and giving up on the projects that came with it.