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They were the other franchise that tanked for tomorrow, the other team that traded talent for draft picks, the other front office sold sacrifice for some shimmering championship on the horizon.

The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t exactly the Miami Dolphins. The 76ers pushed a platform of softness. They pampered players in a manner the Dolphins haven’t, overpaid them before proof of greatness and showed again in a playoff loss to an average-talented Atlanta why serial tanking rarely works.

But the centerpiece of Philadelphia’s failure holds a common theme the Dolphins must avoid: Ben Simmons, the former No. 1 pick who signed a maximum contract last summer, was benched with the season on the line in Game 7 on Sunday.

“I don’t know,’’ coach Doc Rivers answered when asked if Simmons could be point guard of a championship team.

How did Philadelphia reach this this point? For years, it excused Simmons’ problematic game. Poor foul shooting? Non-existent offensive development? No matter. The Philadelphia front office didn’t just offer excuses for him. It rewarded him last summer with a maximum five-year, $177 million deal.

Which bring us to the Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He’s not Simmons. Underline that. The players are as dissimilar as their games. It’s the culture to watch. There’s overlapping here on the excuses. Simmons was excused and rewarded for his opening years despite open concerns.

You can’t offer critical thinking about Tua’s first year or what needs to improve without a full defensive posture being taken right now. No? Pick a topic. Tua was benched for journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick? Coach Brian Flores says he would have let Tua play through those days if they weren’t chasing the playoffs. Maybe. But he never outplayed a 38-year-old journeyman.

Alabama receiver, DeVontae Smith, said pre-draft he liked quarterback Mac Jones better than Tua? The spin: Smith wasn’t honest – he was helping Jones’ draft stock, the narrative went. Maybe.

Tua stepped up this offseason and said he didn’t know the playbook well enough? Rather than accept his accountability, a fountain of excuses started from team and media to translate what he really meant. Why?

The five-interception day in a rainy, June practice? Who knows what that means? But rather than just say it was a bad day in bad conditions, the excuse is he was told to be aggressive with his passes — as if that offers cover for so many interceptions against no live pass rush.

There’s this growing wall of public excuses for Tagovailoa that’s concerning — and, tellingly, doesn’t come from him. He’s shown an admirable trait of holding himself to a pro’s standard. He’s said he made bad throws when he had. He talked how his rookie year didn’t meet his expectations.

Tagovailoa has carried himself in a leader’s manner in ways that show he has that Alpha gene to succeed — if his game catches up to that. If his great work ethic brings it out. If the talent is there to match.

Another excuse: Justin Herbert, who Dolphins general manager Chris Grier passed on, was better than Tagovailoa last season only because his Los Angeles Chargers had better surrounding talent. The inconvenient truth is Herbert, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year, was everything the Dolphins hoped Tua to be in Year One.

It doesn’t mean conclusions are made and careers written after rookie years. But it all adds up to saying there are questions about Tua entering Year Two that Herbert doesn’t have. Valid questions.

NBC analyst Chris Simms put Tua 34th among quarterbacks (Herbert is 11th). Former NFL executive Mike Lombardi has questioned Tagovailoa’s talent and said sarcastically on a recent podcast, “Oh, don’t say a bad word about Tua.”

“Tua haters,’’ people label them. Why not credible NFL analysts with concerns? They’re not just questions for Tua, either. They’re for Grier, who passed on a series of quarterbacks in recent drafts (Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Herbert …)

They’re about this plan to organizationally tank (but not call it tanking) in order to land a franchise quarterback. And let’s not re-write history – that’s why this plan was undertaken.

So Tua can’t be average or merely good for this grand plan to work. He has to be great. Elite. That’s the daunting bar for success to take the Dolphins off the mediocre merry-go-round. Can he get there? That’s Issue No. 1.

For years, the Philadelphia 76ers touted the line of “Trust The Process.’’ They wasted seasons being awful with the idea of building a generational core. Simmons showed the danger of going there. Years of excuse-making and pampering have given way to hard questions.

My question about the Dolphins strategy always has been this: Can a team not smart enough to find a franchise quarterback without tanking be smart enough to select one, then develop and build around him?

The Dolphins built around Tagovailoa this offseason. There’s some good talent there. There’s also a lot of necessary growth for Tua ahead. You see how he carries himself, watch him work and listen to his words, you see the personality of a champion there.

Does he have the talent to match?

There’s no need to be harsh with that question — or of issues like getting benched or his saying he didn’t know the playbook. But let’s them and float empty excuses. Philadelphia did. They tanked for nothing.