Is there any other way to rebuild a team in the NBA through the draft? It’s an interesting thought these days as we enter a time when tanking in the NBA is a hot button issue and everyone seems to have a solution to fix it. If you don’t tank then how the hell else can you build a championship contender?
NBA free agency frenzy is crazy – it takes over our twitter feeds during the 4th of July holiday as we’re all wondering where the big free agents are going to sign. The one commonality in all of those teams that wind up signing those big free agents? They’re hardly ever rebuilding. Teams that are devoid of any top NBA talent have no chance of signing big free agents, and GMs with a ticking clock for success have no choice but to spend their abundance of cap space on leftover talent. That’s not to take away from those players, but there’s a reason why superstars win championships. Unless you’re attracting the likes of a Kevin Durant or Lebron James you really only have one choice but to hope a superstar rookie comes along via the draft.
The Warriors are the pillar for today’s teams hoping to build through the draft. Acquiring key pieces while slowly developing their players it’s crazy that most of their talent is homegrown. That’s not to say that’s the only way to use the draft to rebuild. Danny Ainge and the Celtics have notoriously stocked up their draft assets in recent years, using consecutive top 5 picks on Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum respectively. Most importantly, that abundance of draft picks allowed the Celtics to convince the Cavs to trade them Kyrie Irving, shipping out the unprotected 2018 Nets pick along with Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. It’s this draft capital that allowed the Celtics to get a young superstar with the ability to develop two potential superstars in Brown and Tatum.
The commonality between the two lies in their ability to use the NBA draft as a most attractive option for underpriced player and the only hopes for some franchises to get a superstar player. Maybe the problem with tanking isn’t the lack of competition in the NBA, but maybe the lack of competition in the NBA offseason. Most teams have no other option.