Sam Hinkie has become a very popular man essentially overnight.
Hinkie may be a relative unknown to fans, especially in Philadelphia, but he has been around the NBA for quite some time now.
Back in 2007, the Rockets promoted him to vice president of basketball operations. He was the youngest vice president in the NBA at the time.
Hinkie is known for his analytics approach to the game of basketball and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thought of him as an essential asset to the organization, according to a blog from InsideHoops.com back in 2007:
"Sam is an invaluable member of our staff who has continued to exceed expectations since he was hired,"Morey said. "He provides a unique combination of an eye for scouting talent with a strong analytical background. Sam's contributions have been key to our success, and I believe he has a bright future in our league."
Morey's decision paid off over the course of the next two seasons as the Rockets won 55 games in 2007-08 and 53 games in 2008-09. It didn't pay off in the form of postseason success, however, as the Rockets won only one playoff series during that span.
The Rockets thought enough his performance though to promote him again, this time to executive vice president of basketball operations in March of 2010.
Morey had more glowing things to say about Hinkie:
"Sam excels regardless of how quickly his responsibilities increase," he said of Hinkie. "We are fortunate to have him. He is one the cutting edge of basketball decision making and has been key to our ability to advance in the playoffs and remain competitive in the face of significant injuries this season."
The injuries Morey was referring to were to center Yao Ming and swing man Tracy McGrady.
Despite his promotion, the Rockets failed to make the playoffs three seasons in a row under Morey and Hinkie.
Sean Mitchell of Yahoo! opted not to put the blame squarely on Hinkie and rest of the Rockets front office. Instead he placed it on it being simply a string of bad luck in a story he wrote in April of 2011.
"Despite the fact the team will once again journey to Secaucus, N.J. to be apart of the NBA Lottery, it doesn't mean the Rockets are a bad organization," he said during a story in April of 2011. "Few franchises have had to deal with the amount of bad lick and special circumstances the Rockets have had to and even fewer would have been able to overcome them as good as Houston has. That the Rockets tendency to miss the playoffs and their lack of series wins since the last trip to the Western Conference Finals in 1997 insinuates they're a bad organization is short sighted and overlooks a myriad of factors."
The Inquirer's John Mitchell was not so forgiving of those years in a story he wrote back in October of 2012, when the Sixers hired Tony DiLeo when the team wanted to hire someone like Morey and Hinkie.
John Mitchell was not a fan of Morey and Hinkie's analytical approach to scouting.
"[The 76ers] wanted the newest thing — the analytic — that guy who would go all Billy Beane on the organization, pop some numbers into equations that only a small minority if basketball people believe in, and spit out a world champion."
John Mitchell went on to say: "This is apparently the plan in Houston, where general manager Daryl Morey — widely regarded as the Dalai Lama of hoops analytics — continues to orchestrate what looks like an unchecked tail chasing mission that has been going on ever since he was named general manager five years ago."
The Rockets finally ended their playoff drought this season before losing to Thunder in the first round in six games.
When news broke that the Sixers have handed Hinke the reins to their basketball operations, Muckrack.com put together a collection of Tweets from journalists around the country with their thoughts on the hire.
Eric Koreen, a basketball reporter for the National Post said that Hinkle is "well regarded."