5 ‘Last Dance’ lessons OKC Thunder can use to build title team

OKC Thunder huddle (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder huddle (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
The OKC Thunder huddle up during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As the OKC Thunder moves into a new era there are five definitive lessons they can apply from ‘The Last Dance’ to help construct a championship club.

For the first weekend in over a month our Sunday night television viewing didn’t include ESPN’s docuseries ‘The Last Dance’. Without OKC Thunder games or any major league sports to watch this series became must-watch viewing and while it didn’t fully satiate our appetites it sure was a nice amuse-bouche.

Following the last two episodes, pundits reflected back on the high points from the series offering their overall impressions and key takeaways. This offering has a more specific purpose. With the Thunder in the midst of their ‘Replenish and Reposition’ era the franchise can learn lessons from the Chicago Bulls who won six titles in eight years via two separate three-peats.

Michael Jordan and his Bulls played in a different era when defenses were allowed to hand check and more defensive leeway. Additionally, neither small ball or copious three-point shooting had yet to hold so much precedence in the league. That doesn’t mean there weren’t valuable lessons for any franchise desirous of building toward a title or being a perennial threat.

With that goal in mind let’s examine the main lessons the Thunder can glean from The Last Dance as Sam Presti begins the process of developing a future champion.

OKC Thunder roster compilation:

Having a generational talent like the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan makes the job easier but without the proper assets surrounding that player the team won’t take the next step. Jordan said it himself – the Bulls don’t win six titles without Scottie Pippen.

Nor does either three-peat happen without Horace Grant, John Paxson, Bill Cartwright, Dennis Rodman, Tony Kukoc, Luc Longley, or Steve Kerr.

For as much as General Manager Jerry Kraus came out of this series looking like the main villain, he did add the proper pieces around MJ for the Bulls to always be in the mix.

Even in the one full season Jordan was out playing baseball (of note he was out all of 1993-94 and most of 1994-95) the Bulls pushed the Knicks to seven games in the second round. That’s because they had a strong core and complementary assets.

The current iteration of the OKC Thunder has great chemistry but no one expects them to be vying for a title.  Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley are solid blue-chip assets who formulate the crux of the future foundation. The key will be adding a player either of the same ilk or more talented than SGA and then constructing the team around them.