In the Wake of #RTArmageddon: The Dumbest Genres of Anti-Process Takes
In a move that seemed to come out of nowhere and get completed with head-spinning speed, the Philadelphia 76ers have traded their number three overall pick and one future pick (with new types of protections newly allowed by the latest CBA) to the Celtics for the first overall pick. As I wrote after the Rights to Ricky Sanchez Lottery Party, the team was in a tough position at 3, with the players most commonly projected to be picked there had major red flags about their games and/or their fit with last year’s top selection, Ben Simmons. Trading for the right to pick consensus top prospect Markelle Fultz, a well rounded combo guard from Washington, alleviates those concerns; doing so at such a relative steal of a cost is a coup for much-maligned Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo.
For those not familiar with the Sixers Process cult: #RTArmageddon was, until recently, a nebulously dated event wherein fans would, at a time determined by a 10 person “RT Armageddon Congress” headed up by RTRS hosts Spike Eskin and Mike Levin, find all of the old, incorrect Sixers/Sam Hinkie opinions on the internet and RT them at once. The timing was important, because it would have to take place at a time when those old opinions would look particularly stupid. The Congress determined that the Fultz trade was that time. For Sixers fans, it’s been the most fun you can have online; for everyone else, I imagine it’s probably been incredibly grating, but we don’t care about them, so whatever. Even Joel Embiid got in on the fun:
Seeing all these tweets together has allowed some patterns to emerge. There are, of course, an infinite number of possible bad takes, as Philadelphia radio personality and professionally incorrect dumb person Howard Eskin has proven for years, but there are a couple that keep coming up that are particularly wrongheaded, and I would like to take this opportunity to bash them further.
The Sixers were dumb to trade Michael-Carter Williams
This is type of tweet is largely the domain of Brian Geltzeiler, aka @hoopscritic, a man so convinced by MCW’s empty Rookie of the Year-campaign stats and length that he was willing to ignore all the evidence that he actually wasn’t good at anything, including defense, his pet reason to continue beating the drum for him. This on it’s own is enough to make him the subject of derision, but the fact that what the Sixers got in return for him — a first round pick from the Lakers that eventually became potentially the only extra asset that the team is giving up for Fultz — is what makes the idea that trading him was a bad move truly laughable. Search “from:hoopscritic MCW” and you’ll find plenty more where this came from:
Geltzeiler isn’t the only person who judged MCW’s potential far too highly. My personal favorite is Charles Barkley, who probably still doesn’t think a team that shoots threes can win an NBA title (not that he would know anything about that) even though the last seven or so champions have shot threes very effectively. Barkley thought that MCW was going to be a perennial All-Star in one of the most egregious misdiagnoses of both player ability and league direction imaginable:
Now, MCW is… on the Bulls maybe? I actually don’t know where he is anymore. I kind of remember Bulls fans being mad that he was on the court against the Celtics so I’m gonna go with that. Seems like maybe getting that Lakers pick was the right move.
Sam Hinkie was bad at his job
This position was also mostly monopolized by one person: Deadspin’s Albert Burneko, who argued that having high draft picks is not a good way to get stars:
And that Sam Hinkie was purposely bad at his job, presumably for job security, which is its own subgenre too dumb to even catalogue at greater length here:
Again, though, Burneko might be the most prominent person to espouse this train of thought, the Alex Jones of NBA Twitter choosing a ridiculous hill to die on spectacularly for clicks, but he’s not he only one.
The “losing and kicking assets down the road so you don’t get fired” angle was always baffling to me. The argument to make here would be that Hinkie wasn’t some genius for implementing the plan or wasn’t a great talent evaluator, but the fact that he gained the Sixers so many chances at top talent meant that that didn’t really matter. At worst he was like James Harden: a relatively average shooter who nonetheless is spectacularly efficient because his shots all come from the most efficient places on the floor.
Other teams are rebuilding the right way
I touched on this in my mid-season post about the power rankings for which team the Sixers had beaten could most suck my dick: fans who appreciate the need to rebuild but see extended tanking as an affront to the sanctity of the game. This was said about a bunch of teams over the last couple years, most correctly about the Bucks, but by far the most hilarious tweets were about the Magic, the Knicks and the Lakers:
To recap: the Magic were very bad and very depressing during the Process, but they at least had the integrity not to bottom out and get any players who are actually good, aside from Aaron Gordon’s Upside. They rebuilt the right way.
The Knicks got Kristaps Porzingis in the same draft where the Sixers got Jahlil Okafor, the biggest (only?) black mark on Sam Hinkie’s résumé as the decision maker for the Sixers, and, within less than two years, have alienated him to the point that he’s DMing Instagram models about going to the Clippers, all while shelling out one of the worst contracts in the league to a past-his-prime Joakim Noah and allowing a drug-addled Phil Jackson to use the team to try to prove some kind of bizarre point about the dated Triangle Offense as a holistic life philosophy. Ric Bucker trusted their Process.
The Lakers have stealthily been nearly as bad as the Sixers for the last three years, hiding behind Kobe Bryant’s ridiculous farewell tour, their old championships, and the lure of their nice weather to avoid the same criticisms levied on the Sixers. They ended up with the second pick in the draft for three consecutive years, and no one in the world would trade any of their top three prospects for even the worst of the Sixers top 3. They rebuilt the right way.
The Fultz trade is actually bad
It’s hard to believe that this exists already, but it does. A trade that is viewed as AT WORST a win-win where both sides benefit, there are people who think the Sixers were wrong to cash out exactly one (1) asset for the consensus best pick in the draft who’s been regularly compared to James Harden and Brandon Roy. Look at this absolute nonsense:
In the very first sentence, Philly.com columnist Bob a rollover admits to never having seen the headliner of the trade he’s about to pass harsh judgment on play! Then, later in the article:
You may remember a guy named Michael Jordan who also played JV during his sophomore year of high school. My favorite part, though, is this nugget:
That right there is the exact sort of gross misunderstanding off what the Process was about that makes something like the #RTArmageddon so cathartic: he allows that, yes, if the trade results in Fultz being a superstar, then it was a good trade, without understanding that, given the price and the evaluation the team (and, seemingly, the league) has on Fultz as a potential superstar and perfect piece next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the trade is a good one even if somehow Fultz never plays a game for the team.
Just so I don’t pick too much on one old dumbass, here’s another far more famous old dumbass to prove that Brookover is wrong:
This perspective (or, more accurately, lack of perspective) is what leads me to the absolute worst of the Process/Hinkie takes.
The Process did a disservice to fans
Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless are, of course, soulless pieces of shit who are either absolutely brain dead or haven’t actually expressed a true opinion that wasn’t meant to cause a stir in decades, but their popularity speaks to their embarrassing influence among the very stupid:
The thought that Sam Hinkie and Process somehow mad Sixers fans miserable is as wrong as wrong can be. The Sixers were trapped on the cliched NBA treadmill, never good enough to actually compete at a high level, never bad enough to bottom out and get the kinds of players that let you compete at a high level. The Sixers have traditionally been the fifth most popular team in Philadelphia, behind the other three major professional sports teams and whichever college basketball team had the best chance to make a splash in the NCAA Tournament.
Not only did the Process give fans a chance at rooting for a contender eventually, it gave them something to think and argue passionately about on the way. That’s why there were thousands of people packed in a bar on a a Tuesday night in May to cheer as a banner with Hinkie’s face on it was raised to the rafters. That doesn’t happen if the fans’ spirit was broken the way people convinced themselves it was without consulting us.
The Process, an NBA nerd’s thought experiment come to life, has left the Sixers with the top prospect in the three of the last four drafts, so loaded with talent that whiffing on the third overall pick in what was supposed to be a loaded 2015 draft completely doesn’t matter. The Process was a success. Now we just have to see about the results.