Progress of the Process: Talent? Talent.

Jan 10, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ish Smith (1) dribbles past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 95-85. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ish Smith (1) dribbles past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 95-85. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Progress of the Process are reoccurring posts giving an updated climate of the team. These posts will compare what has happened recently with the Sixers to the plan that GM & President Sam Hinkie has laid out, with the goal to give a more timely review of these events and how it relates to The Process.

Talent was the question, and it is also the answer.

Things are looking up since making the last Progress of the Process post. At the time of my last post the Sixers were 1-23, Jahlil Okafor‘s fight in Boston was fresh in everyone’s minds, and Jerry Colangelo was hired to the front office to mentor Sam Hinkie.

Since then Mike D’Antoni was added to the Sixers’ bench along with Elton Brand, both to add veteran guidance to coach Brett Brown and Philly’s young bigs, and Ish Smith rejoined the team after short stints with the Washington Wizards in the preseason and starting the season with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Plus! The Sixers have been 3-7 over their last 10 games, which is a stark contrast to their 1-29 record prior.

All of this is great news for the team, who are finally giving more of a fight in recent games, compared to rolling over way too often earlier in the season. This begs the question: What is the driver for this improved record?

With the additions of Colangelo, D’Antoni, and Brand many would point to the experience and veteran presence that these graybeards bring to the team. However, how does one stay in the league for so long and become so respected in the first place?

The answer to the two previous questions is talent. Colangelo is talented in the front office; D’Antoni is talented on the bench; Elton and Ish are players with talent.

Colangelo brought his team-building know-how to Hinkie, whispering in his ear that the team needs to learn how to win, which is a different skill than trying to out-hustle the other team. Good teams work hard and execute throughout the game and, since the young Sixers only did half of that equation, they needed to get a boost.

The biggest problem that the Sixers had all season stemmed from the point guard spot. Isaiah Canaan, T.J. McConnell, Tony Wroten, and Kendall Marshall all struggled to initiate the offense during their trial periods which then had a trickle down effect to the rest of the offense (and yes I know that T.J. had a lot of assists when he was given the starting job at the beginning of the season, but his reluctance to shoot made him an easy player to guard against, essentially giving the defense an extra man).

At the behest of D’Antoni, Hinkie traded two 2nd round picks for Ish Smith and the difference in the offense is like night and day. Under Ish, the ball continually moves not just through passes, but also via penetration, with many ending with lobs to Nerlens Noel.

Hearing the words that Elton had to say about Philadelphia when coming over again gives the team a Brett Brown 2.0, who exudes positivity and wants to teach the kids on how to be better professionals.

"I know I can affect change and be a part of something… I might not make it to the end when it’s really, really good around here. But I can be a part of something as a player."

Brand was always known as a great teammate, and he’s showing why again by wanting to guild the young Sixers.

So, I’m not saying anything new right now: More talent = better results, which has always been the case. What I am saying is that now we’re getting talent in the right places. We started The Process with just Sam Hinkie and hear coach Brett Brown in the driver’s seat, leading us down a path to a championship. They had a clear roadmap on what the franchise needed to do to get there, which I won’t rehash since I’m sure all Sixers fans know it by now.

What we didn’t expect was that the roadmap was too high-level. On the map, we saw the canyons we wanted to avoid, but did not see the potholes that shake all teams trying to get to the top. We veered too much to the extreme in building from the bottom that it affected our game-to-game analysis of our players.

We knew it was part of the requipping process when we initially didn’t resign Ish over the offseason, with information coming out recently when Hinkie talked to Zach Lowe in stating that he thought Marshall would be ready for the beginning of the season to lead the team. That didn’t work out and Kendall hasn’t looked like a steady NBA player since he has come back, and this backfire shows how the unexpected affected the team. With the other PGs on the roster, the Sixers were in shambles offensively; now with a player with more complete PG skills, Philly is competing with teams.

With the ball moving we see Jerami Grant attack the rim, we see Nik Stauskas hitting his shots in rhythm, we see Jah getting deeper post position, in addition to Noel’s alley-oops, highlighting the talents of our entire team.

Next: Nik Stauskas: Just Needed A Buddy In the Backcourt

It’s too early to make decisions on the team, but these pieces are directing the future of the franchise. The best-case scenario is to have a game changing triumvirate of Jah, Noel, and Joel Embiid for the very least to bump up their trade value. Having players with talent by their side will only help with that and, with the roster currently constructed, we’re well on our way there.

The infusion of talent at choice spots (the front office, the bench, and the team) has given Philadelphia a brighter future, as their skills flowed through the rest of the franchise. The most exciting part of this is how good the on-court product has looked, especially compared to the first quarter of the season. Obviously the team needs more talent to be considered an elite team, but now we know that the other spots are able to make moves to mold this team into a better version than it was yesterday.