Best Minds in Basketball


I am going to be the most generous beneficiary you will ever meet as I give you one billion dollars, with the only stipulation being that you need to use that money to buy an NBA franchise.  Unfortunately, the only team that is for sale is the worst team in the league, a team with poor contracts, no young building blocks, and limited first round picks in the upcoming drafts.

In order to turn this franchise around, you are going to have to hire the most qualified and brightest general manager available and give him free reign to make all the basketball decisions, without restrictions.  Luckily, I have lined up the four best candidates for you to consider and they are all willing to take on this role if it is offered to them.  Which candidate would you want to hire to lead your franchise?

First Candidate

Candidate number one played basketball at Oklahoma State and Texas A&M before gaining a degree from Friends University.  Prior to a professional career, he spent his time in the college ranks, working on the University of Kansas staff for five seasons, one of which was a national championship team.

The next season, he began what would become a twenty six year career in the professional basketball league, with only a brief stint back in college.  He began working under one of the most prestigious basketball coaches of all time as an assistant before spending a year coaching at one of the top college programs in the country before being recruited to come back to the NBA to become a head scout by yet another one of the most well respected coaches to ever be in basketball.  He was then promoted to the General Manager of the same organization where he has seen over a decade of stability in his franchise.

Candidate Number Two

Your second candidate graduated in 2000 from Emerson College with a bachelor’s degree in communications, politics and law.  While at Emerson, he played for their Division III basketball team.  He began as an intern in the NBA and worked his way up through his original organization, working in several different positions throughout the franchise.

He was then hired to become the General Manager of a struggling franchise, with which he immediately sold off two of the team’s best players, acquiring trade exceptions and young assets, which he then turned into some of the league’s best players.  While he has not experienced the ultimate success while in charge of his own organization, his club has been one of the most competitive and successful teams over the last five years.

Candidate Number 3

The next candidate we will be interviewing graduated top of his class from the University of Oklahoma, and then earned his MBA from Stanford.  He began his career immediately outside of the NBA as a strategy consultant for Bain & Company while also consulting on the side for teams such as the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans, helping them implement sports analytics in order to improve their drafting strategies.

He was hired as a lead assistant to a General Manager in 2005, and was quickly promoted in 2007 to Vice President, a title which placed him in history as the youngest Vice President in league history.  By 2010, he was named the Executive Vice President, answering only to the General Manager.

The most intriguing aspect of this candidate is what his peers say of him.

“Smart guys have called the smartest guy in basketball”

The Fourth Candidate

The last interview of the day is with someone who was hired to reflect the Moneyball trend that has been overtaking sports.  He started in the NBA working as the SVP of Operations for one of the most influential franchises in league history.  While there, he was in charge of creating analytical methods and increasing the technology to enhance basketball decisions, improve drafting strategies, develop more comprehensive trade scenarios, improve free agent signings and spending, and also create more advanced scouting of all opponents.

He was then hired as an assistant General Manager in 2006, where it only took him one year to become the General Manager for his new team.  It was with this new position that he was able to make his mark on the NBA with a landmark trade to bring in the franchise’s first superstar of the last decade, one who led the team back from anonymity to playoff contenders.  He then proceeded to sign a franchise player through free agency and completed redefined the style of play his franchise will run.

Decision Time

In order to aid your decision making process, it would probably help to provide you with the names of the candidates you have just interviewed.  So, without further ado, here are your candidates:

  1. R.C. Buford (GM of the San Antonio Spurs)
  2. Sam Presti (GM of the Oklahoma City Thunder)
  3. Sam Hinkie (GM of the Philadelphia 76ers)
  4. Daryl Morey (GM of the Houston Rockets)

The Simple Truth

This decision is not all that challenging to make.  Sam Hinkie is the brightest mind in basketball.  He has enough qualifications to run any organization out there, and he has more of a resume than three of the brightest, most influential, and respected general managers in the league.

Therefore, whenever people question why Sixers’ fans are willing to give Hinkie room to make decisions, why the fans were so willing to endure a season in which we were not even attempting to be competitive, why we embrace two straight drafts in which we have taken an injured big man in the top ten right after we were burned by Andrew Bynum, it is because Sixers’ fans understand Sam Hinkie’s resume.  There is a level of respect that comes with his prestige.

Will there always be this level of respect for Hinkie? Simply put, no.  Is the respect he currently garners earned? Yes.  Hinkie came to the Sixers preaching a that he has a five year plan.  So far, in year one he has managed to get rid of the constraining contracts that plagued this team, move all of the negative locker room influences, turned a young, somewhat All-Star point guard into the reigning Rookie of the Year and the most talked about center prospect in the NBA’s Summer League, and added a possible franchise defining big man.

Not to mention all of the international talent he has stashed away overseas, the trades to reacquire future first round picks that were previously traded away, and showing the world a new type of love for second round picks.  If there was not such a distinct and clear direction for this team, I guarantee you the Philadelphia fan base would not be so patient with Sam Hinkie.  However, the brightest mind in basketball has only acted as his title would suggest.


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