Every franchise across the NBA has had to rebuild at some point.
However, some teams do it better than others. Sure, part of it is luck, but a lot of it is strategy.
You’ve got teams like the Sacramento Kings, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 as the rebuild has spanned over nearly two decades.
There’s also teams like the Golden State Warriors who found their core through the draft and quickly rose to contention, building a dynasty.
From there, there’s plenty of teams somewhere in-between.
The Philadelphia 76ers preached ‘Trust the Process’ as they rebuilt their roster from the ground up, relying on having one of the NBA’s worst records for several years to earn top picks. Regardless, they still can’t get over the hump.
There’s other teams like the Atlanta Hawks, who got their superstar in Trae Young, then added veterans around him in free agency.
The point is, every team does it differently, giving a wide range of outcomes.
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For the Thunder, does it make sense to mirror any of these franchises as they conduct their rebuild?
According to Thunder GM Sam Presti, that’s not their plan. Rather, he wants to take a completely new path, building something unlike any other.
He laid this out on Tuesday prior to the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery.
“No, that’s just not how I look at it,” said Presti on Tuesday. “We’re trying to create our own identity. As soon as you try to mimic somebody else, something changes.”
He makes a good point. As the NBA continues to evolve, rebuild methodologies must change as well. Additionally, certain players fit certain timelines and certain systems.
For someone like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, building a team around your superstar could look completely different than the next.
“We have to be our own,” said Presti. “One of one.”
One thing we do know is that the Thunder will have to build through the draft, since they’re a small market team and not the most attractive free agent destination.
This is no secret, but rather something Sam Presti uses to his advantage as he sets up the rebuild.
At the end of the 2020-21 season, he called Oklahoma City a ‘draft and develop’ organization, saying “we own that.”
That’s exactly why Presti has compiled a record-setting stockpile of draft capital over the next half-decade or more.
It appears the OKC Thunder rebuild will be one of a kind.