The 76ers Would Be The Worst Expansion Team In Modern NBA History

Lewis Schaffel1989Miami1300-726 Bernie Bickerstaff1991Denver1479-2335 Michael Jordan2001Washington1436-150146 Chris Wallace2008Memphis1416-9296 Pat Williams1990Orlando1300-9252 Rod Thorn2001New Jersey1446-109234 Walter Brown1947Boston1300-82100 Harry Weltman1988New Jersey1412-80-49 GMs inheriting rebuilding teams Stu Jackson1996Vancouver1300-7540 Ernie Grunfeld2004Washington1444-119114 Sam Presti2008Seattle1440-137119 John Paxson2004Chicago1420-109112 Jack McCloskey1993Minnesota1325-60-59 Billy King2011New Jersey1352-5197 Grizzlies1996-75-62+35 The average GM in that situation saw a 62-point Elo improvement from the beginning of Year Two through 27 games of his third season, and 24 of 32 GMs oversaw some kind of improvement. Hinkie, by contrast, saw a loss of 84 Elo points over the same span — by far the steepest drop on a list littered with some of the most glaring managerial failures in league history. Adding insult to embarrassment: yes, that’s Colangelo up at the top, albeit navigating a very different NBA in 1969.You’ll notice that a few of the GMs on the above list took the reins of an expansion club. Certainly, the 2013-14 76ers featured a roster that could pass for a brand-new NBA franchise. This raises the question: How might the Sixers fare if we arbitrarily (but, let’s be honest, justifiably) assigned them an expansion-level Elo of 1300 before the 2013-14 season and compared their progress to those of the NBA’s other modern expansion teams, going back to the 1976 ABA-NBA merger? Now that Jerry Colangelo is Skyping in to the Wells Fargo Center for what The New York Times calls a “father figure” role in the 76ers front office — which, suuure — it seems like an opportune time to take inventory of just how big a mess Sam Hinkie and his Process have made.We know, we know: The Sixers want to be this bad; these are planned grotesqueries; the trades have been fine and the picks are still coming and never you mind the reported dozen-odd team owners banging down Adam Silver’s door demanding a good waterboarding for ol’ Sam. Silver, of course, denies intervening (which you can hear for yourself on a special episode of Hot Takedown), and that’s practically a co-sign from the man in charge, isn’t it now? A full-on prosecution of Hinkie’s process is justified and overdue. For now, however, we’ll confine ourselves to discussing the shape of Philadelphia’s evolution in the broadest possible sense, comparing its progress during Hinkie’s reign with that of other teams also undergoing such radical, um, rebirths.We looked at this a few ways. First, we used our Elo ratings to find all GMs who took over a below-average team that got worse in the GM’s first year in control — specifically, overseeing an Elo decline of at least 50 points,1The equivalent of a 2-point drop in point spread each game. enough of a drop to pick up teams that needed more than one offseason’s worth of work. We then looked for the Elo gains or losses each made between the start of his second season and the 27-game mark of his third — i.e., where Hinkie is with the Sixers right now.We’re trying to isolate full-on rebuilding jobs: teams that were already bad and were still in demolition mode during Year One but were presumably trying (or at least should have been trying) to lay down some semblance of a foundation after that. We can then judge Philadelphia’s progress against this historical standard. Turns out, Hinkie has ruled over the biggest Elo decline of any GM under those circumstances, ever: Hornets1989-24+5+41 Kiki Vandeweghe2002Denver1469-9065 Carl Bennett1949Fort Wayne1495-11388 Nick Mileti1971Cleveland1300-10354 Danny Ainge2004Boston1481-6834 David Kahn2010Minnesota1371-129137 What if the Sixers were an expansion team? Edwin Coil1966Detroit1428-11075 John Nash1991Washington1416-63-31 Mavericks1981-31+78+134 Pepper Wilson1959Cincinnati1481-174-16 Jerry Colangelo1969Phoenix1300-133243 Magic1990-92+137+34 Check out our 2015-16 NBA Predictions. Jim Paxson2000Cleveland1468-57-30 Rich Cho2012Charlotte1422-271168 ELO CHANGE FROM 1300 THROUGH SEASON Bobcats2005-5+80+65 Elo change for season three is through the first 27 gamesSource: Basketball-REFERENCE.com Garry St. Jean1998Golden State1406-11038 Glen Grunwald1998Toronto1445-202185 Rob Hennigan2013Orlando1478-22980 EXPANSION TEAM1ST YEARONETWOTHREE (1ST 27G) Elgin Baylor1987L.A. Clippers1424-21749 Sixers2014-137-68-88 EXECUTIVE1ST YEARTEAMINITIAL ELOYEAR 1YEAR 2 TO YEAR 3 Again, the Sixers are way behind schedule. Not only would their Elo change since “expansion” rank last among modern expansion franchises, they’re also the only team to be in worse shape after 27 games of Year Three than they were when the franchise “began.” Being a team with no past at all is better than being these Sixers.Now, the standard procession of Hinkie Stan counter-arguments. Argument the first: Expansion teams are generally trying to make incremental progress in their first few seasons, which is not necessarily what Hinkie’s Sixers are pursuing. Argument the second: The draft is an imperfect science with bad luck lurking behind every lottery pick, and the lottery itself is based on probabilities as well. When your entire team-building concept relies heavily on risk tolerance, it’s no surprise that busts are likely when the boom doesn’t come. Argument the third: The Only Goal Is Winning A Championship (And Building A Dynasty), and the Sixers remain well-positioned to draft or develop a superstar.We’ll leave those arguments to be settled another day. What this research suggests is that the Sixers have made significantly less progress than their historical analogs (to the extent those exist), and NBA fans looking to watch a decent game of basketball in Philadelphia these last three years would have been better served if the league had dissolved the 76ers and held tryouts. Eddie Donovan1971Buffalo1300-89-35 Timberwolves1990+41+108+33 Raptors1996-37+125+25 Heat1989-72-55+3 Sam Hinkie2014Philadelphia1460-206-84 Source: basketball-reference.com Mike Dunleavy1993Milwaukee1412-54-37 ELO CHANGE

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