Washington Wizards Looking to Emulate OKC Thunder’s Blueprint

by March 14, 2011

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.'”