opening Keynote: 1-On-1 with Sam Hinkie
Former GM and President of Basketball Operations, Philadelphia 76ers
Sam Hinkie was named President of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers on May 14, 2013. Hinkie joined the Sixers following eight years with the Houston Rockets, most recently as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.
From the inception, Hinkie’s moves, hires and decisions served to reshape the storied Sixers franchise and lay a foundation for future success. His aggressive pursuit in achieving this goal resulted in a total of 27 trades in his first 29 months on the job, with the Sixers accumulating a wealth of new players, exclusive NBA rights to players, and draft picks in the process. The Sixers could own as many as four first round picks in the 2016 NBA Draft, including their own and the selections of potentially the Los Angeles Lakers, the Sacramento Kings, the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Golden State Warriors.
Hinkie and the Sixers brought former Duke University center and 2015 NCAA National Champion Jahlil Okafor to Philadelphia with the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft—the latest in a string of historic draft night acquisitions for the Sixers in recent years.
During the summer of 2013, Hinkie and his team doubled down on the Sixers future by dealing Jrue Holiday to New Orleans in exchange for the rights to Nerlens Noel, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and what turned out to be the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Sixers eventually used that pick to complete a trade with Orlando in which they netted Dario Saric, who was the 12th overall pick in 2014, and to regain Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2017. Saric was named the FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year in both 2013 and 2014. The 2014 also netted University of Kansas standout Joel Embiid (third overall) and Jerami Grant of Syracuse (39th overall).
The ingenuity of Hinkie’s administration was in full display in the form of a trade with Sacramento in July 2015. The Sixers acquired Nik Stauskas, who was the eighth overall pick in 2014, along with a future first round pick and the rights to swap first round picks with the Kings in 2016 and 2017 in exchange for the rights to a pair of late second round picks from the 2014 NBA Draft.
The Sixers relentless search to add talent has also resulted in the likes of players like Isaiah Canaan, Richaun Holmes, Hollis Thompson and Robert Covington joining the roster. Canaan (the 34th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft) and Holmes (the 37th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft) were acquired via a trade-deadline deal in 2014 involving former 32nd pick K.J. McDaniels. Canaan saw his scoring average more than double after the trade as he averaged 13 points in 22 games for the Sixers following the deadline. Holmes, who was named Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year his senior year at Bowling Green, begins his rookie campaign in 2015-16. Thompson was signed as a free agent prior to the 2013-14 season after spending the previous season in the NBA Development League. He became the 12th player in NBA history with at least 180 3-pointers made over the first two seasons of a career while shooting 40.0% or better from behind-the-arc. Covington was signed by the Sixers in November of 2014 after being waived by Houston and finished the season tied for the most 3-pointers made through the first 77 games of a career in NBA history.
Hinkie began his NBA career with the Rockets in 2005 as Special Assistant to the General Manager (then Carroll Dawson), one year prior to the arrival of current Rockets GM Daryl Morey. After a promotion to become the youngest Vice President in the NBA in 2007, Sam was again promoted to Executive Vice President in 2010.
While with the Rockets, Hinkie led the team’s considerable analytic efforts, using data to improve decision making in the NBA Draft, free agency, trade and game strategy. Additionally, Hinkie provided day-to-day management of basketball operations, managed the Rockets salary cap and scouted prospects in person across the collegiate and professional ranks.
During Hinkie’s tenure in Houston, the Rockets emerged as a leading franchise in any sport in the use of analytics, and Sam and his team’s efforts have been profiled by The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and in Michael Lewis’s New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story on Shane Battier (The No-Stats All-Star). He has presented and lectured at Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton and has been an original contributor to the leading sports analytics conference held annually at MIT since its inception in 2007.
From 2006-07 through 2008-09, the Rockets won more regular season games (160) than in any three-year run in the history of the franchise. In 2007-09, the team won a remarkable 22 straight games, which stands as the fourth-longest winning streak in major U.S. professional sports history.
Prior to joining the Rockets, Sam advised NFL teams on draft strategies and ways to use statistical analysis to improve decision making. Hinkie also held positions in private equity & venture capital after beginning his career as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company.
Sam serves on the Advisory Board of KIPP, an innovative charter school network focused on disadvantaged children in urban communities. He also serves on the National Advisory Board of Positive Coaching Alliance, a non-profit group that encourages character building through youth sports.
Hinkie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma and was named one of the top 60 undergraduate students in the nation by USA Today. He also holds an MBA from Stanford, graduating with highest honors as an Arjay Miller Scholar.
ESPN NBA Writer and Founder of TrueHoop
For the last three years, Henry Abbott has led ESPN's NBA coverage in digital and print, with particular focus on the TrueHoop Presents feature series, a collection of award-winning, traffic record-setting original longform NBA work by Jackie MacMullan, Pablo Torre, Baxter Holmes, Tom Haberstroh, Kevin Arnovitz, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Brian Windhorst and others. The TrueHoop Podcast is among the fastest growing in sports, and TrueHoop TV, with its popular minute-long animations, has tens of millions of annual views and has been a pioneering digital-first video series to be routinely featured on ESPN TV shows including SportsCenter.
Henry got to wear a fancy journalism medal at graduation from NYU in 1995. After living on multiple continents, working at CBS News, and working for several years as a freelance magazine writer with a focus on basketball, he founded the TrueHoop NBA blog in 2005. That same year Forbes named TrueHoop the "Best of the Web." After a TrueHoop investigative project was featured in GQ, ESPN acquired TrueHoop in 2007, where Henry became ESPN's first blogger. In a decade there Henry has had numerous and varied impacts: the NBA credited Henry's work with changing one of the league's most basic rules, on traveling; the league banned flopping for the first time after a TrueHoop campaign; after Henry wrote about Kobe Bryant's poor field goal percentage in crunch time not only did teams's start passing more with the game on the line, but Bryant also stopped winning the league's annual player poll naming the most clutch shooter. Henry's also pretty sure that Sam Hinkie traded rookie-of-the-year Michael Carter-Williams for a Lakers' lottery pick in small part because of a TrueHoop report on disarray in the Lakers front office (which, it should be noted, continues to this day and has the 76ers in line for an excellent pick).
Henry lives in Flemington, New Jersey with his wife, two children and funny-looking rescue pitbull Lola.