1 major mistake of Thunder’s rebuild the Spurs must avoid

As the San Antonio Spurs navigate their rebuild around Victor Wembanyama, they can look to the Oklahoma City Thunder for what they should not do.
Tre Jones, Chet Holmgren
Tre Jones, Chet Holmgren / Brien Aho/GettyImages

The Oklahoma City Thunder's rebuild took several years, stockpiling draft picks and accumulating young talent. While they have made significant progress, their strategy has also highlighted a major pitfall that the San Antonio Spurs must avoid: keeping draft picks for too long.

The Thunder are finding themselves in a situation where their plethora of picks are losing value because they have an abundance of young talent and limited roster space. The Spurs, who have similarly accumulated draft assets, must be quicker to flip these picks for win-now help to ensure a more balanced and effective rebuild.

The Spurs' growth does not have to be linear to be successful

Recent reports indicate that the Spurs are eager to accelerate their timeline. This does not mean mortgaging the future, but rather strategically using their large assortment of picks to make moves that can immediately enhance the team’s competitiveness. San Antonio can leverage their draft capital to acquire proven players who can contribute right away while still maintaining flexibility to pivot if necessary.

The Thunder have built an impressive roster of young, talented players, finishing the season as the number one overall seed and advancing to the second round of the playoffs. However, despite having the second-youngest roster in the league, they continue to hold a significant number of draft picks over the next several years.

For a team that primarily needs experience and further development, holding onto so many picks is redundant. If Oklahoma City aims to keep their core intact, there is little utility in hoarding a war chest of draft picks.

A common misconception about the Spurs' rebuild is that it only began recently. However, unless one believed that San Antonio was a championship contender with Dejounte Murray as the leader in his fourth season without DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, the rebuild actually started years ago. The addition of Victor Wembanyama was an exclamation point for a process that had already been in motion.

Typically, rebuilding teams expect several years to pass before they are taken seriously as contenders. However, Wembanyama is a generational talent unlike anything seen before, and exceptions are made for exceptional players in exceptional situations. The Spurs have the opportunity to accelerate their rebuild by making savvy trades and utilizing their draft picks effectively, rather than stockpiling them for an uncertain future.

By learning from the Thunder's experience, the Spurs can avoid the mousetrap of overaccumulating draft picks and instead focus on creating a balanced and competitive roster. This approach will enable them to maximize the potential of their young talent, including Wembanyama, and position themselves as a formidable force in the NBA much sooner than traditional rebuilds might suggest.

The Spurs' front office has a history of making smart decisions, and by prioritizing strategic moves over hoarding assets, they can ensure a brighter and more immediate future for the franchise.