Will tanking really work for Sixers?

History shows teams as bad as Philly take even longer just to reach .500

Updated: March 27, 2014, 4:01 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

YoungEric Hartline/USA TODAY SportsAs bad as the Sixers are, the numbers say there's no guarantee they'll get better soon.

Sam Hinkie isn't stupid. In fact, the Stanford MBA has a reputation as one of the league's brightest statistical minds. So it's noteworthy that, in his first position as general manager with the Philadelphia 76ers, Hinkie has chosen the teardown-style rebuild that has left the Sixers as one of the worst teams in NBA history.

Before coming to Philadelphia, Hinkie saw firsthand how a team can successfully rebuild without going to the bottom of the league. He served as assistant GM for the Houston Rockets, a team that is now a model for rebuilding without hitting rock bottom.

Hinkie choosing a different path raises the question of whether playing for high draft picks is the smart strategy for teams trying to get to the top.

The past evidence in that regard is mixed.