Joel Embiid doesn't call himself 'The Process' just because it sounds cool when he's introduced before a game at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly. The Philadelphia 76ers center uses it as a tribute to the dark days of the Sixers when a Sam Hinkie-led front office tanked for better days.
Hardly any players from 'The Process' are still around, but the man who claimed to be the face of it all hasn't gone anywhere since the day he's been drafted to the Sixers. In 2014, Embiid's foot injury caused him to go from becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft to getting selected third-overall.
Although Embiid had his sights set on either joining the Cleveland Cavaliers as the top pick or hoping to see himself drop to the Los Angeles Lakers at pick No. 7, the former Kansas big man ended up with the tanking 76ers. While some star players did what they could to avoid landing in Philly during 'The Process,' Embiid embraced it.
Years later, he's now proud to see his team lock in the Eastern Conference's top seed after he witnessed them fail to pick up more than ten wins in an 82-game season when he first joined the 76ers organization.
“From that time, we’ve only improved," Embiid said in regards to the 10-72 year. "The following year, I only played 31 games, and I feel like in those games, we were competitive. If I would have finished the year. . . I really believe we would have made the playoffs if I hadn’t gotten hurt."
Following his debut season, Embiid entered the next season with a chip on his shoulder and another process-earned superstar addition by his side in Ben Simmons. “The following year, Ben joined and we started killing it,” Embiid said. “Then we finished with the 3rd seed and lost to Boston in the second round. So, I think that’s where it starts. Every year, we’ve gotten better.”
Aside from the surprisingly disappointing 2019-2020 campaign, Embiid is correct -- the Sixers have only gotten better since 'The Process' started. And after defeating the Orlando Magic on Friday night, the Sixers clinched the first seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in 20 years.
“I’ve mentioned that in the past, I just felt like everything was fitting,” Embiid said in regards to the Sixers organization this year. “From the owners to coaches, the front office to the players, I just felt like everybody was on the same page. That’s why we were able to have such a good regular season. At the end of the day, it’s all good. You got to go out and prove why you were the No. 1 seed and you got to go in the playoffs and win the whole thing.”
Embiid is happy to see everything come together years after the Sam Hinkie tanking era really started. He even went as far as crediting the former President of Basketball Operations on Friday night during his postgame press conference.
While Hinkie didn't get to see everything through firsthand, his tactics certainly helped the Sixers land valuable assets and allowed them to build a top contender years later. Now, it's time to see how far 'The Process' can take the Sixers in the playoffs this year.