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OKC vs. Houston: Two Approaches at a Rebuild

The Thunder and the Rockets will meet on Friday night as the franchises try to usher in a new era of winning basketball.

Friday evening, two of the NBA’s rebuilding franchises will do battle.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1) will continue their season-opening road trip, heading south to link up with the Houston Rockets (0-1).

But the contest will be more than a battle between two teams, but a clash of differing mentalities and fortunes for two franchises hoping to usher in a new era.

Last season, the two teams finished five games a part, and the NBA Draft Lottery smiled upon the Rockets.

Though they didn’t land the No. 1-overall pick, the Rockets got to pick second, selecting G League Ignite star Jalen Green.

The Thunder on the other hand were the big losers of lottery night.

After a year pursuing a top five pick, Oklahoma City slid to six and settled for Australian jumbo guard Josh Giddey.

And while Giddey appears to be a real talent, he still wasn’t the dream scenario.

As a result, OKC general manager Sam Presti continued his quest to amass every first-round pick he can.

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When given the opportunity to take another swing at a first-round talent with the 16th pick, the Thunder opted to trade out, allowed Houston to sweep in and select Turkish center Alperen Sengun.

In fact, Houston helped Presti in his quest to own every pick possible.

The Rockets facilitated Russell Westbrook’s departure from OKC, sending the Thunder picks and the perfect franchise reset button in Chris Paul.

Paul instilled a culture of professionalism and a team-first mentally, which has seeped through to Oklahoma City’s star of the future, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

For Houston’s money, they took on another massive contract in John Wall, while going out in free agency and landing talented big man Christian Wood last year.

Only time will tell which rebuild is more effective, but Friday night’s contest will have little to do with the future.

The two teams will again be separated by five games, this time with the Rockets projected to win five more games than the Thunder in the preseason win totals, and one of them will pick up their first victory of the season by Friday’s end. 

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