Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 8:45 am  |  11 responses

Washington Wizards Looking to Emulate OKC Thunder’s Blueprint

The Wizards, like everyone else in the NBA, admire what the front-office in OKC has been able to accomplish in short order, and hope to do something similar with their own group. The WaPo reports: “In Oklahoma City, the Washington Wizards see a team they would like to be; one that recognized the need to start over from scratch and reached relevance after an initially gruesome beginning. The Thunder (42-23) has yet to win a championship or a playoff series for that matter, but it already has created a team-building strategy that is referred to around the league as ‘the Oklahoma City model.’ It took advantage of lottery luck, established and cultivated a core of young talent, made shrewd trades to accumulate draft picks and/or prospects, created financial flexibility and used discretion in free agency. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis often references how the Thunder assembled quality talent around Durant as an example of what he would like to duplicate in Washington around No. 1 overall pick John Wall … Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said recently that the team shouldn’t be judged by wins and losses, but by how effective it is pulling off a rebuilding plan committed to acquiring and developing talent. There is a lot of uncertainty next season with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire on June 30 and a lockout appearing to be more of a possibility. The Wizards, however, have put themselves in a decent position to improve next season with the addition of a certain high lottery pick and a first-round pick acquired from Atlanta in the Kirk Hinrich trade … The biggest move of the rebuild has been trading Gilbert Arenas to Orlando for Rashard Lewis. Lewis has struggled of late with right knee tendinitis limiting his production, but more important, the deal allowed Nick Young to show his ability to score and it left the franchise in Wall’s hands to lead. [Kevin] Durant said he would advise Wall to not let his early struggles deflate him. ‘Continue to keep thinking positive, because everybody on the outside looking in is always thinking negative, but you’ve got to always keep your head up. Since he’s the leader of that team, never let his team think losing’s okay. I’m sure they are going to change it around pretty soon and he’s going to be the cornerstone of that organization.’”

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  • T-Money

    I agree with this approach to an extent but the key to this is still drafting future superstars like KD and Russell Westbrook. And I’d like them to win a series or two before calling their model successful.

  • Tweaks

    Props for the title and the observation . I’ve been thinking the same thing each time i watched the wizards this season, and i must say that if they get some length and/or a star big man..the system might work for them better than for okc only because of sheer talent.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Royal

    They are not gonna go far with Andray Blatche…

  • dsleepy

    show me, leonsis. show me.

  • runNgun

    A lot of teams are following the Sonics/Thunder-approach. However, this only works if you luck out in the draft and get that can’t miss talent like a Kevin Durant, a Derrick Rose, or a John Wall. If you look at the Timberwolves, who are also following the blueprint, they haven’t been so successful in the lottery. Even then, you have to endure a few seasons of losing (in some cases too many losing season)… can fans or a franchise endure that long (especially, the disadvantaged small-market teams)?

  • 23-DOOM-50

    I love how before all the injuries people said the Blazers were doing it the right way and OKC was doing it too. Have people all ready forgotten what a good core Portland would have had if they hadn’t had the injuries???

  • http://jojo.com Max

    They had their chance with KG, but everyone on the Wolves organisation is a retard…

  • runNgun

    The McFail Era has its share of blame. It failed to build around KG during the latter years because KG’s contract was prohibitive from signing top free agents; KG was at one point the highest paid player in the NBA. Another thing that happened was Stephon Marbury’s ego; were that not the issue, the KG Era would be a lot different from the annual first round playoff exits. And speaking of ego, remember Latrell Sprewell’s, “I’ve got to feed my family” debacle? That pretty much ended KG from getting his ring in ‘Sota. The salt to the wound though was the illegal Joe Smith contract which cost the Wolves 3 first round picks (something that should have happened w/the Knicks organization w/the illegal workouts ala Brandon Rush). The bottom line… it wasn’t just the organization that blew it, it was the players as well.

  • Fat Lever

    They lucked out with KD, but the drafting of Westbrook, to me, is almost as important. Remember, he was a very raw athlete with somewhat questionable PG skills. He worked on developing his game. He has the drive to improve, which seems like it’s such a foreign concept to a lot of blue chippers coming out today.

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    @dsleepy you speak for all of the DMV. SHOW US LEONSIS!!! Flip Saunders has dones some decent jobs around the league, some really good seasons with the Wolves, one great season with the Pistons….but if anything has been obvious over the last 2 years (almost feels like more)its the fact that he is not the man for this job. And some of it isn’t really his fault. Its not his fault their 111M dollar man was joking around with a loaded glock in the locker room. And even besides that, the Wiz have been dealt so many injury issues its tough to even put together a 5 man roster that you can even expect to see on the court with any consistency. But through it all I should be able to see, however barebones, some sort of structure of a basketball team….its just not their. One of the reasons I’m so high on John Wall is the fact that he has litterally as a rookie been the only constant in an otherwise inchoate organization. I was one of the cats who never wanted Eddie Jordan fired. This was the house he built, he was the architect…..You never fire the architect!! I remember back just waiting on the chance to see Gil, Caron, Antwan, Deshawn, AD, etc. etc. on the court together all healthy and ready to make another play off push, and put fear in the hearts of Lebron and the Cavs…..just not to be. The architect was fired, and the building came crumbling. All them guys are gone…’cept the young guys, and its obvious Flip has no handle on what to do with them either…..except pass the ball the Nick Young and let him shoot of course…..anyways…..better next year right?? Honestly its hard to put a finger on what it is exactly that this team needs pieces-wise and I’m almost certain its not gonna be available in this next draft. Show us something Leonsis, show us

  • birdy

    as a die-hard wiz fan, i really hope this is true.