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Sixers Schedule: 9 reasons it’s clear they still hate the process

We’ve had some time to gloss over the 2022-2023 Sixers schedule, and it appears Joel Embiid was right, they hate the process!

NBA: Finals-Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers 2022-2023 schedule is out and fans are scouring the layout for rough or easy patches, rivalry weeks, marquee matchups, and trap games. We thought it would be a fun idea to find nine reasons they Hate The Process, based on how it looks.

Philadelphia 76ers V San Antonio Spurs Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

By now most of you know the history. The Sixers’ once brand spanking new, maverick ownership group had grand dreams of winning numerous championships so they hired Sam Hinkie who basically proposed “The Process” and they all said hey “let’s bleepin’ go!”

Hinkie and the small group he trusted (Sachin Gupta and Ben Falk) had just added about one pick per month during his first 26 months on the job, running roughshod over the league’s phone lines and fax machines.

Despite everyone above him fully understanding that the public backlash would be severe, after just two full seasons, the kitchen ultimately got too hot for management. They brought on Jerry Colangelo to “clean things up,” (claimed it was a collaboration but still reportedly gave him final say) and the monthly influx of other team’s precious draft capital dried up for good.

When Hinkie resigned he’d left in place Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, Christian Wood, Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes, T.J. McConnell, Nerlens Noel, the just nearly traded to Boston for Nets lottery pick Okafor, max cap space, and a haul of picks that could blow away our current markets for both Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, and likely a third star to boot. (The last things we’d read about Hinkie was he’d been shopping Jah, and had at one point placed calls to Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard’s camps, and would later signing Wood just before resigning.)

Yeah so...if anyone ever tells you the process didn’t work, just play for them this compilation of reporter soundbytes, a reminder of how low things got in between the Hinkie and Daryl Morey tenures:

Things are thankfully much better now, and hopefully they can still right the ship.

A Lesson?

One lesson here is that it’s still more socially acceptable to seem incompetent and unlucky than cunning here. Consider how much it has paid to be very, very bad:

  1. Golden State was the 5th worst team in the league between 2008-2012, result: 4 rings.
  2. Cleveland was THE worst team in the league between 2010-2014: four finals berths, one ring.
  3. The Lakers were THE worst team from 2013-2018: one ring.
  4. The Bucks were the 7th worst team from 2010-2016: one ring.
  5. The Thunder were THE worst team from 2005-2009: OKC built a should-have-been-dynasty that would have probably won upwards of four rings if they hadn’t decided James Harden, simply wasn’t good enough; now they’ve come full circle, on another epic multiyear tank.
  6. Toronto was the 6th worst team in the league from 2008-2013: Bryan Colangelo accumulated about six lottery picks, which his successor Masai Ujiri would later flip masterfully into star/veteran help: one ring.
  7. And of course...Philly was THE worst team from 2013-2017 but they aborted the process too soon: still waiting on those rings....

Those examples should remind us all just how potent this bottoming out strategy can be, whether you did it on purpose or it was more deliberate-accidental, erm...deliberadental!

The past is the past, but this organization still represents something that makes rival fans and pundits spew venom.

Here are nine reasons it’s clear they still hate the process, 2023 schedule edition.

9) Boston Celtics in Boston on opening night!

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The season begins in Boston. The Sixers have made some major changes. It could take them a game or two, or even weeks, to get used to their new personnel. The league clearly wants to help Boston win what could become a crucial tie-breaking game come playoff time, slating this game in Bean town before the Sixers have even had one warm up vs. the Bulls. They clearly just hope Philly goes 0-1 so TNT can rip them. Smoking gun evidence they hate the process! * [Important Footnote]

8) Game two vs. the Milwaukee Bucks!?

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers will be at home for the second game of the year, but they’re still going to be working out some kinks. Is De’Anthony Melton capable of playing the three and checking Khris Middleton? How does P.J. Tucker look alongside Tobias Harris? Does Doc still think Paul Millsap should be the one guarding Freak?

There’s a chance the Sixers could be really good and still start 0-2 vs. teams with more cohesion. And down the road, that could come back to bite them.

Clearly, they hate the process!

7) The beginning of the schedule isn’t ideal for a team with key additions

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The first half of the Sixers schedule is actually pretty good. But the opening twelve to fifteen games isn’t easy. Soon after Boston and Milwaukee, the Sixers will head up North to Toronto. So that’s not ideal. There’s a world where the Sixers are just fine in the end, but any shakiness at the start (or an injury) and they could begin like 5-8 or some really ugly record number.

6) Lucky number 13 back-to-backs

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers will have 13 back-to-backs this season. That’s two more than they had last year.

Since 2018, Joel Embiid missed most of this first three seasons, he’s worn a mask in two post-seasons, he’s played through knee injuries in two post seasons, tack on a torn thumb and index, plus concussion for one of those mask campaigns, James Harden has dealt with hamstring issues amid his last two go rounds, P.J. Tucker is 37....

This is a team that needs to get as religious and formulaic with their load management program as Gregg Popovich and Nick Nurse once got. They can perhaps beat anyone if healthy. But we may only see that if they’re more conservative moving forwards.

Still, the Raptors once fired Bryan Colangelo and Alex Rucker, the dudes who’d come to Philly to start prioritizing Markelle Fultz over Jayson Tatum and later Al Horford over Jimmy Butler. Then the Raptors got Kawhi, who knocked the Sixers out, won a chip, then later drafted Scottie Barnes, then broke Joel’s thumb and face, and still got one less back-to-back? CCTV evidence here which all proves #TheyHatetheProcess:

5) Strength of schedule

According to analysis conducted by PositiveResidual, the Sixers have the 13th easiest record (based on things like how much they’re traveling, how much rest times they get between games, etc.) That’s about average, not great, not awful. But... the league almost seemed to try to make everyone happy, and left Philly in the middle.

According to OddsChecker, the Sixers have the 7th best championship odds. But that means that five of the six teams who already enjoyed better title odds than Philly just learned they’ll also have slightly easier schedules now too.

That’s right, despite finishing better last season, the Bucks, Heat, and Celtics, will all enjoy somewhat easier slates, than Tyrese Maxey and co. per the algorithms.

Out west, the Clippers and Suns have softer schedules too. And look who’s on top, the Denver Nuggets. Clearly, the league is trying to get Nikola Jokic yet another MVP. You’d think they might have given the Sixers the easiest schedule to make up for Embiid getting snubbed on the last two All-NBA teams and MVP votes, no?

Of all the teams given a better chance to win the title than Philly, only the Warriors got stuck with a tougher slate.

Hit us JoJo!

4) The Sixers final stretch is murderer’s row

Golden State Warriors v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Dude. The Bucks, Celtics, and Heat, again teams all favored over the Sixers, and teams who were just granted easier schedules, get to also finish on an upswing with a bunch of softer games to end the year. The Sixers go the other way.

The Sixers won’t have as much opportunity to build confidence or momentum heading into the post season, and more importantly, they’ll have less chance to rest aching, aging stars.

Daryl Morey may have evidence suggesting “momentum” heading into the playoffs is statistically overrated.

But how will it feel to Doc Rivers and the group if they drop a couple rungs in the final playoff seedings late, making their path more difficult? And how will their road weary legs feel?

Plus, what these algos may not be detecting... some of those middling and weak teams that tried their best vs. the Sixers back in Dec. may happily go belly up for Boston come Mar.

3) Helping tankers tank?!

NBA: Summer League-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Hold me back fam, but not in a good way. Below are the teams with the most difficult schedules, per Positive Residual:

So the Spurs, igniting their first major rebuild, since the pre-Tim Duncan days, just traded away Dejounte Murray for draft capital, and were gifted the hardest schedule? And just on their heels are four of the five teams to select first in June’s 2022 draft? With the Pacers and Kings just after them? Dude!

What a coincidence, what serendipity that the teams coveting Victor Wembanyama mostly all wake up with the toughest schedules! Almost as if the league has said “go forth my wretched children, tank ‘til your decrepit heart’s content! We want to help you!”

Where was this energy when Philly was processing? Go foist Jerry and Bryan onto the Thunder or better yet the Celtics to make amends!

Hit us MC Young Troel:

2) “Rivalry” week

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philly will host the Nuggets and Nets during Rivals Week, the league’s newest feature. I will look forward to James Harden vs. the Nets, Ben Simmons vs. the Sixers, and Joel Embiid vs. Nikola Jokic. Both games are at the crib, and really what’s not to enjoy?

But the Mamba in me looks at Nets-Sixers, and Sixers-Nuggets and shrugs. The Sixers beat the Nets in five games in the one playoff series back in 2019 and if I recall some player named “Jared Dudley” talked trash or something?

The teams haven’t met any other time in the post-season since that year George Orwell is always banging on about!

What about the Heat, Celtics, or the team that literally tore Embiid’s thumb and broke his face while the fans cheered? They’ve all faced Joel and co. twice in the playoffs now, and there are storylines galore.

What about this stuff, a Bucks co-owner talking publicly about how “easy” it will be to select Jabari Parker over Joel in the draft?

Or this:

Or the fact that the Sixers traded away Jrue Holiday to kickstart the whole process? But it’s the Colorado Gold Flakes that gets everyone excited? I dunno man.

This is what NBA rivalry looks like to me.

Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Laker Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images
Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

The rest is trade or TV MVP debate show hype. The playoffs are where rivalries are born, nowhere else. Ask Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone or Steve Nash who their “rivals” were.

1) I’m going to blend numbers 4 and 3 from our list above into one here and call it “post-process punishment.”

We already talked about a few of these points, but let’s talk about how they can have a compounding effect on each other. Feedback loops, people.

The Sixers schedule is easier in the early going and much harder at the end.

We know the worst teams in the NBA will try harder in Nov. than they will in Apr. Late in a year is customary for tank teams to send solid vets like Lou Williams or Al Horford home.

Remember the Washington Wizards last year? Teams like them, or the Hornets enjoyed hot starts. By April though? The cream rose to the top and the scum sunk to the bottom.

The Sixers will get the softer teams when those teams may still be competing, and Philly may have to push hard just before the playoffs. A few teams already better than the Sixers, and with lighter schedules, will get to rest stars while still devouring some tankers.

Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum and Giannis may get watch their teams stack wins while they flash some drip on the bench by Fool’s day. While the Sixers will be hopping red eyes between between San Francisco and Phoenix, for a SEGABABA.

Bangs gavel. So as you can see, they still hate the process. I rest my case.

Footnote*

There are millions of people who hate the process, but admittedly the idea that these schedule makers do is more than a bit playful here.

Actually, it’s been reported that former Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil, was very mad when Sam Hinkie traded away Michael Carter Williams for the draft pick which would one day be used to select Villanova’s Mikal Bridges. Around this time, it’s been said, O’Neil called his former colleague from his NBA League Office days, Adam Silver. Then both O’Neil and Silver began lobbying Josh Harris to make a change. That’s what led to Jerry Colangelo eventually coming on as a Special Advisor, in 2015 and earning final say by early 2016.

Eventually, the team would hire Bryan Colangelo, and like O’Neil, a couple other folks with NBA League Office experience on the business side to help run b-ball Ops. So while I’ve heard people say things like “Adam Silver hates the Sixers” I’ve often thought to myself... well, if I had had that much influence over a team, and saw a bunch of my old office-mates on the business side suddenly rising to prominence on the basketball side of things (a dream scenario for so many) I would probably root for them and enjoy having such influence within a key franchise. (But maybe now he’s back to hating the process ‘cause Daryl Morey is here and he tweets about human rights or compiles videos showing how terrible the calls were in the 2018 WCF and other things Silver may hate).