Remembering some of the Philadelphia 76ers’ finest from the rebuild.
Us Philadelphia 76ers fans have grown a little spoiled. The team heads into every game expecting to win — what else should be expected from a team with a Magic-esque highlight machine at point, the best isolation scorer Philly’s had since Allen Iverson, and a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation of Shaq, Hakeem, and Mutombo at center.
It’s easy to forget how good we have it. It’s easy to forget that just three years ago, we started a lineup of JaKarr Sampson, Henry Sims, Glenn Robinson, Robert Covington and Jerami Grant. It’s easy to forget the sacrifices of the process, those cast off along the way as the Philadelphia 76ers moved on to greener pastures.
SportsCenter hosts and Twitter junkies and NBA journalists always write about success stories. So here’s to some of those who found success. Just not in the NBA.
In the 2014 offseason, without a real NBA shooting guard on the roster, then-GM Sam Hinkie turned to free agent Alexey Shved. Unsurprisingly, Shved wasn’t the answer — at least not here in America.
After disappointing campaigns in Minnesota, Philadelphia and New York, Shved returned home to his native Russia. Back on his home turf, Shved won 2017 EuroCup MVP and on April 28, 2018 set his Russian league’s record for three-pointers made, knocking down eight threes en route to 36 points and one win. For Shved, the shooting has always been there — the rest of his game is the reason he’s out of the NBA.
Henry Sims went undrafted coming into the league, but somehow managed to finagle himself into starting 32 games for the lowly Process Sixers after being traded for Spencer Hawes. After that, it was all downhill. And it just kept going down.
Sims left the NBA just two years after his stint in Philly. He bounced around — from the G-League’s Salt Lake City Stars to the CBA’s Shanxi Brave Dragons then back once more to Salt Lake City. After GMs realized Sims was washed — not that difficult a conclusion — he was forced to Vanoli Cremona, a middling team in Italy’s Serie A. Outclassed once more by Italian bigs, Sims was forced down yet again to Virtus Roma of Italy’s Serie AA, or the G-League of Italy. Legend has it that Sims is still unathletically meandering through the paint while JaKarr Sampson initiates the offense.
Michael Carter-Williams, affectionately known as MCW to his dozens of fans, showed some glimmers of brilliance in Philly — glimmers that quickly lost their luster once Philly realized that in a league of shooters, athletes, and defenders MCW was none of the above.
Despite Carter-Williams’ 2014-15 Rookie of the Year campaign, the Sixers had no issue shipping him off for a Suns first-round pick to Milwaukee. With the Bucks, MCW wasn’t awful yet — he scored 30 points against the LeBron James-led Cavs in a statement game for him and a statement win for the Bucks.
However, just like a vast majority of Process castoffs, MCW faded into obscurity. His lack of shooting and, really, anything forced him out of the Rockets rotation this season – and perhaps the NBA for good.
It’s fun to think about these guys every once in a while, a rush of nostalgia for such terrible rosters. But every real Philadelphia 76ers fan, as fun as tanking may be, would’ve traded Shved or Sims or MCW for this current team any day of the week. And twice on Sundays.