Week (at least) that Joel Embiid is expected to miss due to left knee soreness

Time to end ‘Process’

Posted by Eric Fisher On May 18

Fisher column logo2The 76ers are on the clock.

No, not in the draft. The Celtics and Lakers select before the Sixers in next month’s NBA Draft.

The Sixers are on the clock in terms of being a competitive basketball team. Being competitive means winning basketball games.

Being competitive also means “The Process” is over. I hesitate to invoke the term “The Process” because it invariably leads to a debate with the zombies who worship Sam Hinkie and think he deserves a statue for making a trade that allowed the Sixers to switch picks with the Kings and move up two spots in this year’s draft.

The Sixers have the Lakers’ first-round pick next year and the Kings’ first-round pick in 2019, so, of course, the process of improving never truly ends. If the process isn’t over, though, the portion of the process in which the Sixers are prime contenders for the top draft pick should be over.

This is the fourth straight year in which the Sixers will have one of the top three draft choices. Although it’s good to have high draft choices, the only way the Sixers should be in this position again next year is if they make a huge jump in the draft lottery.

The wins should come close to matching the losses next season. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Sixers this season, but they finished with a 28-54 record. That’s as many games as they won in the previous two seasons combined, but it’s still not a reason to celebrate.

Sixers fans have endured some awful basketball during the past four seasons. In those four seasons, including this year’s 28-win “achievement,” the Sixers only won eight more games than the Warriors won this season.

The rebuilding, or the process, or whatever you want to call it has gone on long enough. Promise and potential shouldn’t be enough next season. It’s time to start seeing results. Real results.

The Sixers need to be in contention for a playoff berth next season. That means they need to be in mathematical contention in late March or early April rather than in theoretical contention in January, as was the case this past season.

It doesn’t matter who is injured. The Sixers have been drafting high enough for long enough that they should approach .500. Their fortunes should not depend upon the health of one player (Joel Embiid).

Please don’t tell me to be patient. The Sixers used up a lifetime of patience as they tanked for three straight seasons. They asked for patience as Nerlens Noel sat out for a full season. They asked for patience as Embiid sat out for two seasons. They asked for patience last season as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft, remained sidelined for the entire season.

I have as much tolerance for additional requests to be patient with the Sixers as I do for telemarketers calling during dinner to try to get me to switch electricity suppliers. If the Sixers’ first-round selection next month doesn’t play next season, a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the Sixers organization and its medical staff.

There aren’t any more acceptable excuses. The Sixers need to compete for a playoff berth next season. Although the Hinkiebots will never admit it, a failure to be in playoff contention next season would indicate that the “The Process” is a failure.

It shouldn’t take five years of rebuilding just to return to playoff contention. The Process, however, isn’t about merely making the playoffs. It’s supposed to be about winning a championship.

But you can’t win a championship if you can’t make the playoffs.

The Sixers need to at least make a serious run at the playoffs next season.

The clock is running out on “The Process.”

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Side angle of Cody Parkey's missed field goal