From garbage to gold, the mantra “Trust the Process” has taken over the sports world. For the mantra that first started as a rally cry into a team’s culture, is it truly the new way to build a team?
The mantra “Trust the Process” hasn’t always been part of the team’s identity. Since 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers have been all over the national media for the wrong reasons. For four straight seasons, the 76ers compiled a 75-253 record in 328 possible games (a .228 winning percentage).
However, the lost years gave Philadelphia a couple lottery picks that turned into Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.
With the 76ers beginning the 2017-18 campaign with 14 wins and 16 losses (13-10 at the start of December), the franchise is now turning heads in the NBA.
Prospects of Hope in #TTP
In May 2013, the architect of “The Process” Sam Hinkie was hired as the General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. The franchise’s owners selected him for his analytics acumen. They figured the Stanford graduate could “Moneyball” the 76ers back to greatness.
From the start, Hinkie never shied away from his desire to sacrifice short-term wins in favor of long-term victories.
Here was his thinking: championship teams rely on star players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James to lead the way. Hinkie believed the only way for the 76ers to get a high-caliber star was to have a top pick in the NBA Draft. The worse a team was, the higher chance they got the top pick to select a talented player. Basically, his process required a lot of patience.
Courtesy of ESPN
Over the next four years, the 76ers were atrocious. The franchise lost more games than any other team and set the record for longest losing streak in major American sports history with 27 straight losses.
Despite all the suffering, 76ers fans stood behind the motto of “Trust the Process” and supported Hinkie’s vision. Unfortunately, three years later, other NBA team owners thought enough was enough. They believed the 76ers outright tanking was bad for the league. Under pressure from the league, the franchise hired a consultant to oversee Hinkie in December 2015.
In April 2016, Hinkie stepped down. Therefore, this marked the end, but served as the beginning of a new era. Many players came and left Philadelphia: Evan Turner, Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young, Tony Wroten and most recently, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. But in the process, came budding stars like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Under their young stars, the 76ers are ready to catapult back into contention for years to come.
#TrusttheProcess Takes Over the Sports World
While the NBA trailblazed the process of tanking, two teams in the MLB proved that tanking can work.
The Chicago Cubs spent 2010-2014 near the bottom of the NL Central. The club brought up talented prospects such as 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant (2nd overall in 2012), Kyle Schwarber (4th in 2014) and Javier Baez (9th in 2011). Adding the young farm system, they made critical trades for Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Hendricks. In 2016, the club finally ended their 108-year World Series drought in 2016 and have been in contention since.
The Houston Astros faced a similar situation. Similar to the Sixers, the Astros were among the bottom of the NL and AL West in 2012 and 2013, enduring back-to-back 100+ loss seasons, finishing 55-107 and 51-111. This season, they nearly doubled the win total, winning 101 games to secure the franchise’s first World Series championship.
Nonetheless, the Cubs and Astros are perfect success stories of the process of tanking leading to a championship in recent years, but losing-to-win has yet to be seen in the NBA, NFL and the NHL. However, with the way the 76ers are built, they are not too far from one day becoming champions.
Follow Arthur Puu on Twitter: @arthurpuu
Photo by Spark Sports Illustration // Getty Images