Sam Hinkie is hedging his bets for the second straight year on an injured big man who may not see the court at all this upcoming season for the Philadelphia 76ers. It is a big, big gamble. Hinkie, as we have learned, is a gambling man.
This is the type of move that will make Hinkie look like a genius or inevitably blow up in his face. There is no in between. Here’s the caveat. I believe if Joel Embiid remains healthy, he will be a superstar in the NBA.
He has a mouth watering skill set and moves as fluid as most guards and forwards at 7 feet tall. His talent, ridiculous athleticism, and skill set have never been questioned. He’s even drawn comparisons to one of the greatest big men in the history of the game in Hakeem Olajuwon. The one wild card is Embiid’s health. He has only been playing basketball for four seasons and has already had two major injuries.
Could this be a fluke? Certainly a possibility but when it comes to big men feet and back problems are nothing you want to play around with. Hinkie unlike most general managers obsessed with winning now and taking short cuts to get there is playing the long game.
He is following the San Antonio Spurs model of building around a big man and sprinkling shooters with two-way athletes at the wing. It also doesn’t hurt the Sixers already have a stud young point guard in place in Michael Carter-Williams. Hinkie should know intimately what this injury means. He was in Houston when Yao Ming dealt with the exact same injury and it ended up crippling his career.
Hinkie and the Sixers medical staff were confident enough in the surgery and medical reports that they don’t think that will happen with Embiid. We shall see. Fascinating times in Sixers land. The fans will be forced to accept tank 2.0 and another year of major losing. The Sixers will be right back in the lottery and picking in the top 5 again next year.
This is certainly the long game. The Sixers won’t be relevant again until 2016 at the earliest. Their future also hinges on a center with superstar potential and major injury concerns. Hinkie swung for the fences on this one. Will he hit it out of the ball park or come up empty?