Spurs fans are understandably eager to see Victor Wembanyama alter the trajectory of this ball club after wallowing in the disappointment of painful play-in losses and four consecutive losing seasons. No matter how skilled the French phenom is on the court, one player cannot singlehandedly turn things around without help from a rock-solid supporting cast, and winning the lottery is only the beginning of the rebuild.
While San Antonio could clear up to $43 million in cap space this summer and go on an all-out spending spree in an effort to force themselves back into contention as soon as possible, it appears their front office will take a different approach. General Manager Brian Wright joined ESPN at the NBA Draft Combine on Thursday and spoke about the importance of exercising patience after landing the number one overall pick.
Wright has seemingly learned a lesson from observing other franchises in similar circumstances. The Dallas Mavericks are a cautionary tale of going all in on a disgruntled superstar at the expense of depth and draft capital, giving Luka Doncic a proper partner in crime by adding Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline only to see their season and long-term outlook crumble as he missed games and was noncommittal about his future.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Oklahoma City Thunder have laid a fascinating blueprint for fellow rebuilding teams. Rather than discard their gifted prospects and lottery tickets to deal for household names to propel their organization into the postseason, they have patiently constructed an intriguing young core of Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that all fit a cohesive timeline.
The Silver and Black have burgeoning talents in Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan, Devin Vassell, and Malaki Branham. Each of them should benefit from the arrival of Wembanyama. And since they are all in close proximity age-wise, they will have plenty of time to develop alongside one another. San Antonio also owns a gold mine of draft picks and salary cap flexibility they can use once the roster is ready to take the next step.