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The 76ers still don't look anything like a basketball team

Hinkie's process gets even cloudier with the selection of center Jahlil Okafor to join fellow centers Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel.

The thing about the Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie is that any one of his moves can be explained in basketball terms in a vacuum.

When the Sixers traded 23-year-old NBA All-Star Jrue Holiday for picks, Hinkie's camp was able to explain why that made sense: the way to rebuild in the NBA is not to hover around 30 wins, but to fall below 20. When the Sixers took injured centers and stashed foreign stars with three of their first four picks, that was explained as the team just grabbing the best talent available regardless of actual availability.

When Philadelphia traded the one ready-to-play lotto pick Hinkie had made -- Michael Carter-Williams -- it was because the player wasn't a long-term fit or even the type of player the Sixers wanted to feature after all. (MCW was, of course, traded for a future pick.)

With their single lottery pick in 2015, the Sixers took a player who will play immediately and who should be a fit with any team: Jahlil Okafor. The problem is that he plays the same position as the last two top Sixers picks, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. Noel finally got on the court last season and showed spark. He figures to be a good and perhaps great defender.

Embiid sat out the entire season and has since aggravated his injured foot, meaning we have no idea when he'll actually play. Okafor is healthy (as far as we know) and appears to be NBA-ready. He may in fact be the presumptive favorite for Rookie of the Year given the dearth of offensive talent in Philly.

Like the Holiday trade, the Noel pick, the Embiid pick, the Saric pick and the Carter-Williams trade, picking Okafor at No. 3 instead of Kristaps Porzingis, Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja or Justise Winslow is completely defensible in and of itself.

But when you look at the big picture, it gets real cloudy.

If Embiid can play this year, how does Hinkie expect Brett Brown to get them all enough minutes to develop? All three need to be close to the basket to be most effective on offense. No pairing of the three would seem to make sense as a front line. Most strikingly, even if all three play well and manage to co-exist on the court, the Sixers are so derelict elsewhere in the rotation that it's a waste to tie up so much talent in one or two positions.

Ish Smith, Isaiah Canaan, Brandon Davies, Larry Drew, Chris Johnson, Tim Frazier and Glenn Robinson III all started games for the Sixers last season. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute started 61 games! In 2014 and 2015! The Sixers might have four non-center NBA rotation players on the roster, and maybe one legit starter (Robert Covington).

This is where we remember that Hinkie is not building a team yet. He's hoarding assets. He's collecting as many lottery tickets as possible and occasionally cashing one in. If he doesn't hit the jackpot with one of them, he'll flip it for another ticket.

Carter-Williams is a perfect example: Hinkie hit well enough to land the Rookie of the Year, but decided to put those winnings back into the system to grab a future Laker first-rounder. If one of the three centers hits, but isn't a superstar Hinkie wants to keep, chances are that player will be flipped, possibly for another draft pick.

This is a fine business strategy. The problem is all of the damn humans involved. Hinkie runs the Sixers like a venture capital firm: He makes lots of bets knowing a bunch will go bust but also knowing that the ones that win will win big. When you put that model on the necks of a bunch of 19- and 20-year-olds, it looks rather inconsiderate. When you hire Brett Brown to teach and develop a roster that will turn over more than rotisserie chicken, it looks rather silly.

There's also the matter of the fan base, an important piece considering this is an entertainment business. Plenty of smart fans have embraced Hinkie's plan, wearing those unintentionally hilarious "Trust the Process" t-shirts at the draft and at games and watch parties. It would be nice to be able to trust the process if Hinkie ever actually explained the process or got results. Hope, faith and trust are all good and righteous feelings. But how has Hinkie earned it? Just by having a plan? That's an awfully low threshold.

Sure, the NBA is a business, and everyone here is an adult. Okafor is in for some weird days and he'll be paid handsomely for the trouble. Embiid or Noel (or both) will find themselves on a new team soon. In all likelihood, they won't be the first or last supposed franchise cornerstones to get shipped off. And eventually the Sixers will try to win games.

In the interim, it's worth understanding that while Hinkie has a plan that just might work, it's wholly foreign to the NBA and extraordinarily cold. That's why there's so much criticism of the Sixers. This is all pretty weird, and not in a good way.