LET IT never be said that Sixers grand poobah of basketball Sam Hinkie is not effective in exercising a plan.
When Hinkie took over as Sixers president and general manager in May, he set forth a strategy to sacrifice the 2013-14 season and take advantage of what is expected to be an extremely talented and deep 2014 NBA draft to set things up for the future.
He is succeeding spectacularly.
Whatever illusions the Sixers cast with their surprising start this season have faded into puffs of smoke. A squad that Hinkie built to lose is rounding into the form of what it was always designed to be - a spectacular loser.
On Wednesday night in Minneapolis, the Sixers blew a 19-point lead and let a non-descript rookie named Robbie Hummel get all of his career-high 10 points in the fourth quarter of a 106-99 victory by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
By the end, the Sixers saw a 20-point swing in the wrong direction from halftime, when they led by 13.
They dropped their fourth straight and have lost eight of their last nine.
Hinkie has to be somewhere smiling as he adds up the increasing number of pingpong balls for the draft lottery. Is everybody exhaling now? Still worried about the Sixers winning too many games?
The Sixers are in a free fall to the bottom of the standings. In their last 10 games, they have fallen from 5-8 to 7-16, and a reprieve from the losing does not appear to be on the horizon.
Above all else, Sixer fans crave a top five pick in the 2014 draft, and Hinkie's workings have all but assured one. If the Sixers don't end up with a top five pick, probably top three, it will be because the basketball gods hate them and will allow the statistical impossibility of teams with better records jumping by them.
Despite a 3-0 start, the Sixers are one of 10 teams with fewer than nine victories. If you look at those teams, only the Utah Jazz (5-19) and Milwaukee Bucks (5-17) are as devoid of NBA-caliber talent as the Sixers.
Those are the three teams that have no legitimate chance of playing at a percentage much better than .300, and will battle all season to be the worst.
The Sixers have as legitimate a chance as the others to lose, or rather win, that race.
This team can't defend. It yields an NBA-worst 109.3 points a game and averages 18.0 turnovers - the second most. It should be no surprise that the Sixers are down with Utah and Milwaukee with worst point differentials.
I can't say I feel sorry for Sixers coach Brett Brown and his staff because they knew what they were signing up for. Hinkie never misled anyone. Everyone knew that no matter how hard the coaches and players worked, this roster was never going to be talented enough to reward their efforts with a significant amount of wins.
This roster is victory-proof.
It can't win.
It doesn't have the talent to sustain consistent play throughout a 48-minute game, and that generally means you end up losing a lot.
The Sixers may be able to steal 10 to 15 more victories in their final 59 games. Those of you who go into conniptions every time they win a game, just calm down.
What you see is what you have, and it has shown that it is not enough.
The Sixers have one active player - rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams - who is a guaranteed starter leaguewide. It is not that Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes or Thaddeus Young would not be starters on any other team, but their true value is as rotation men, not the go-to guys they are with the Sixers.
The rest of the roster, with the exception of injured rookie center Nerlens Noel, is comprised of end-of-the-bench players.
It's only on the Sixers that fringe players like Lavoy Allen, James Anderson, Hollis Thompson, Daniel Orton and Brandon Davies are being sold as regular rotation players.
Brown is doing his best to patch things here and there, but there are too many holes.
It won't get better. It likely will get worse.
Hinkie is not acquiring any pieces that could significantly improve the immediate future. He won't risk that high 2014 high pick.
It's likely that Hinkie will diminish the talent base as the season goes on by trading someone for a future asset.
I'm not disagreeing with Hinkie's philosophy that the Sixers need to build for the future. The best way to do that is to get bad so that you can hopefully draft the franchise-caliber player who eventually will make you a good team.
I'm not here to criticize Hinkie. I'm here to praise him for a job well done.