Between 2013 and 2017, the Philadelphia 76ers won 72 total games. In just 2016, the Golden State Warriors won 73 games.
That era was the dark age of “The Process,” in which the 76ers morphed from a perennial pile of whatever to the laughing stock, punching bag, and punch line combo meal that the rest of the league feasted on annually.
Trying to actually win games became unapologetically abandoned, and the specter of LeBron James running the Eastern Conference for the next eternity-and-a-half made roadmaps to contention run directly through hell.
And thus, the culture of losing was born. Players shuffled in and out of Philly like it was a hospice care facility while future assets and long-term projects were prepared for the future. Super-duper high draft picks were spent on injury-riddled prospects, and Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid actually panned out until Simmons panned back in.
Selecting Embiid over the field in the 2014 draft is the lone moonshot of the era, but beyond that, the process has been devoid of major home runs. The downfall of Simmons was an apocalypse-level event and not the fault of the organization. But trading the pick that became Jayson Tatum stings like a yellow jacket, as do the pair of top-six drafted duds, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
Fundamentally, The Process subjected fans to four full years of blatant noncompetiveness and has not a single Conference Finals appearance to show for it.
Worse still is the feeling of impending doom that all the assets paid for in blood are reaching their expiration date. The James Harden situation has imploded, and we’ve at least reached DEFCON 2 with how Embiid feels about it.
If, at some point in the next few years, the 76ers begin another rebuild, it will be one of the saddest decades in sports history. All is not lost, but I’m going to dissect the process-era teams with a fine-tooth comb to see if there are any guys that should have been shipped off earlier and preserve the results here.
Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.
(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
1. Danny Green
I’m going to use Danny Green as a vehicle to explain the highly sophisticated and mathematically infallible methodology behind these rankings. We really appreciate the sacrifice, Danny.
On the surface, it may seem ridiculous to claim the 76ers held onto Green for too long. He was only on the team for two seasons, so it doesn’t seem there was much holding on going on. But the process era simply did not have the level of continuity you’d see on other teams. The turnover was immense, so a simple evaluation of the number of years a guy played is not going to suffice.
Rather, I’m looking at the full picture. How they were acquired, what they cost to keep around, and if they meaningfully contributed to contending to determine if they should have been bounced earlier.
Green is a classic case of this holistic analysis. His two years on the team were fine but coincided with a rapid physical decline that stunted the defensive side of his primo three-and-D status. He was a filler that could hit a couple of threes in his 20+ minutes per game, shown by his yearly averages of nine and six points, respectively.
That’s nothing egregious, but Green’s tenure detracted from the goals in more ways than are obvious. The 76ers wanted to keep him around for two more years, as noted by the extension he signed in his second year before tearing his ACL.
Before all that, he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Al Horford and a 2025 first-round pick, a trade that might still come back to haunt the 76ers. And at the end, he was traded for De’Anthony Melton, an essentially parallel player whose value I have questioned on the record.
Green was probably brought in for his unrivaled championship luck, having won with Cleveland, Toronto, and Los Angeles before making his way to Philly. But his cost to the team was never worth his value, and so he begins our list.