This NBA season, it seems some teams are in full tank mode. If you just take a look at the Eastern Conference standings alone, you will understand. This year’s NBA Draft prospects are the perfect cash crops for GMs and owners around the league who are looking to rebuild their teams.
Throughout the past few seasons we have seen a handful of NBA teams that have struggled in past years that are now sitting and bidding to be on the throne on top of the NBA hierarchy. Teams such as the Thunder, Pacers and Trail Blazers are examples of teams whose management understood the method of building a team from the ground up from the draft. Thunder GM Sam Presti did a brilliant job drafting Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden. Despite Harden, of course, they have had a chance to play together for a few years, learning the ropes in the NBA and now, they are major contenders in the Western Conference each year.
Even though they have changed some positions in the front office, the Pacers exploded last season and became an immediate favorite in the Eastern Conference with the emergence of Paul George. They drafted Roy Hibbert in 2008 out of Georgetown to be their anchor of their defense. They found Lance Stephenson in the second round of the 2010 Draft and he has been their X-factor this season, having the most triple-doubles in the league this season with three.
Then you have the Trail Blazers, who have the fourth-best record in the league this season and are playing amazing basketball. The Blazers have surprised everyone this year and rank first in three major categories in the NBA in points per game, rebounding and free throw percentage. The Blazers drafted LaMarcus Aldridge in 2006 and he has erupted this season to be an MVP candidate. Last year’s Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard has been fearless and has hit multiple game-winners this season and may be heading to his first All-Star Game.
All three of these teams didn’t spend big money in free agency — they got better through the draft. Now, some others are following that blueprint.
There is no predicting the future of course, but we can make educated guesses at some of the teams who could become the next OKC, the next Indiana, the next Portland…
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Current record â€“ 12-35, Southeast Division
2014 NBA Draft First Round Selections â€“ Two
Centerpiece â€“ Victor Oladipo
The Orlando Magic hired GM Rob Hennigan at the age of 30 to overhaul their roster and prepare for the future. In his tenure so far he has made some critical decisions, trading away Dwight Howard to the Lakers during the 2012 offseason and also trading J.J. Redick to the Bucks. The moves created a massive amount of flexibility for the team’s financial plans.