OKC Thunder: 10 young cores who offer templates for rebuilding

OKC Thunder rebuild Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with Jaylen Brown (7) : Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder rebuild Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with Jaylen Brown (7) : Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder rebuild; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Short term lottery stays with the goal of a quick return to competitiveness

Memphis Grizzlies:

Four teams fall under the category of entering the rebuild in a timed fashion. Memphis for example slowly moved away from the Grit and Grind era. After seven consecutive postseason appearances, Memphis missed the playoffs in 2017-18.

That summer they drafted Jaren Jackson and sent Marc Gasol to the Raptors at the trade deadline picking up young assets in Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright.  The following summer they landed Ja Morant and traded Mike Conley.

Every move they made seemed timed with a view to those two draft classes and perhaps they got lucky with Jackson and Morant but Brandon Clarke was another solid pick. While teams like the 76ers spent years and went through copious drafts the Grizzlies seemingly accomplished their goal in two seasons as Memphis came very close to hastening their return to the playoffs just missing out last season.

Ultimately, savvy draft moves, the right coaching hire, and great player development equated to a quick flip in repositioning and restocking for the next era. The overall plan, internal groups, and system is a template many small markets should be studying.

Atlanta Hawks:

Similarly, the Hawks participated in a solid decade of playoff basketball before flipping the rebuild switch. They’ve also hit the lottery for three successive years but again with a plan and a window they were willing to observe before recommitting to bolstering their roster depth to align with the young core and compete to rejoin the playoff seeds.

GM Travis Schlenk made calculated moves and while you’ll never convince me passing on Luka Doncic for Trae Young was the right move at least Young is in the upper echelon of young talents and the executive added additional draft capital with the move. This past offseason Schlenk was one of the busiest GMs and despite a weak free agent class landed two of the most coveted assets in Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari.

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Denver Nuggets:

After a decade of postseason appearances taking a five-year window to rebuild. In 2014 they drafted Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris. In the following draft, they selected Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray (plus Malik Beasley) the year after.

The Nuggets allowed the group to grow recognized Nurkic and Jokic weren’t the best fit trading Nurkic in Murray’s rookie season and within a year they were back in the playoffs and had built one of the deepest teams in the Association.

Dallas Mavericks:

Following 12 years of consecutive postseason appearances and one year after they won the title they made some minor tweaks to the roster. They became a lottery squad for one season, returned to the playoffs three successive years, and as the Dirk Nowitzki era ended spent entered a quick rebuild.

This quick turnaround was punctuated by the draft-night trade to land generational talent Luka Doncic and the trade for Kristaps Porzingis.

While the next option is the narrator’s preferred strategy using the short-term lottery stay with a quick ascension back to playoff contention is a viable choice. These four teams proved it can be accomplished and all are in a position to ascend to the top of the ladder in the coming seasons via that choice.