“Trust The Process” has become a mainstay in the NBA rebuilding phase for most teams. A phrase made famous by the Philadelphia 76ers during their tumultuous rebuild back to contention, the organization was once among the worst rebuilding teams in the NBA, and managed to climb out of the gutter into one of the best markets in the association. We identify four rebuilding teams that with the highest ceilings as they try to transition out of this phase, where time is of the essence.
Rebuilding Teams In The NBA With The Most Promising Futures
Key Prospects: Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, Alperen Sengun
19-year-old Jalen Green 🚀
8 3PT *
* Tied for most ever in NBA history by a teenager
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 25, 2021
The Houston Rockets have experienced some major roster turnover since trading away James Harden a season ago. They received a mediocre player package including Victor Oladipo, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Heat, in addition to four future first-round picks. However, Rockets fans have reason to tune in and be optimistic about the future of the franchise.
Headlined by Christian Wood, Kevin Porter Jr., and Jalen Green, the Rockets are young, raw, and hungry core that at the very least, could provide some nice highlights to wake up to the next morning. The Rockets are one of the youngest rebuilding teams in the NBA, as they currently have four players on the roster that are 19 years of age.
Green himself looks like the rightful top pick in this past draft, as he has impressed greatly in this short season. He holds the potential to become a star in this league sooner than later, as he is as dynamic a prospect as Houston could ask for in its rebuilding phase.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Key Prospects: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Dort, Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, (36 draft picks over next seven years)
Of course, we cannot mention rebuilding teams in the NBA without grazing over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The amount of draft picks and assets they have stocked up on reads like a CVS receipt. They own 36 draft picks over the next seven seasons, 18 firsts, 18 seconds. It is tough to measure where OKC can be in the next few years through their rebuild, as many of their future picks and prospects are not even in high school yet. However, when analyzed one season at a time, with the wave of upcoming prospects entering in the next year or two, there is reason for optimism in OKC.
They have their franchise star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and a handful of other young talent that has the capability to make opponents work for their wins on a nightly basis. That is the very least you can ask for in a bunch like this. While the Thunder hold perhaps the most potential to exit their rebuilding phase as a legitimate contender for the next ten to 15 years, it also comes with the most pressure and least amount of margin for error.
They have had a similar situation to this before, rebuilding through the draft and grooming Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook, and that ended before it really ever got started. The franchise cannot afford to make this same mistake this time around.
Key Prospects: Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart
On paper, the Detroit Pistons do not draw much appeal from a global NBA fanbase. A low market team, the Pistons are gonna be feeding at the bottom of the Eastern Conference Standings for at least another season. However, moving forward with the number one overall pick Cade Cunningham could be the start of a new generation of basketball in the NBA.
Cunningham fits the mold of the new NBA point guard. At 6’8, 220 pounds, Cunningham is taller and bigger than most other guards in the league, which makes him extremely versatile on both ends. He has the skill set of a readymade star. The next wave of future NBA talent is getting even more athletic, with even more insane physical presence. We saw the start a season ago with the arrival of LaMelo Ball, and we are seeing it again with Cunningham.
He leads a young, gritty Detroit team with plenty of young potential, but that is going to take a few more painstaking years before they start to get serious. Cunningham is yet to hit the floor this NBA season, but the Pistons should have their franchise point guard to build around moving forward during their rebuild.
Key Prospects: Collin Sexton, Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Isaac Okoro
For the first time since LeBron James left for a second time, the Cleveland Cavaliers are, at the very least, watchable. The swing in youth on the roster makes them an intriguing draw for the fans in Cleveland, if there are any left. While they are a bit crowded in the frontcourt, they have an exciting backcourt with a high motor in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland to match.
There is the slightest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, barely visible. The team has their next direction after years of being lost in the shuffle. Although the same has been said for years now, they must move on from Kevin Love ASAP, in order to both free up the frontcourt and allow the young core to grow into their own. Love is on a different timeline than the rest of the franchise.
I would give it one more full offseason before the Cavaliers return to the NBA Playoff (or play-in) territory. For the time being, they may just be too raw and inexperienced for the toll of a successful regular season campaign just yet, but they are headed in the right direction as one of the most promising rebuilding teams in the NBA.
Key Prospects: Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Wendall Carter Jr, Mo Bamba, R.J. Hampton
I may be the only one of this life raft, but I loved every decision the Orlando Magic made at last year’s trade deadline. After years of hovering in the NBA’s no-man’s land, they finally committed to the long-awaited rebuild. They traded away their veterans Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon, and chose to let the kids get some run.
There will be nights that looked extremely ugly, but this team has so much potential. The frontcourt is big, long, and athletic, and the backcourt has shown to provide scoring in loads, whether in the small NBA sample size or at the collegiate level. They are gonna be frequent flyers in the draft lottery, which will only allow them to stockpile for young prospects in their youth movement.
The upcoming wave of talent set to arrive in the NBA is growing more and more intriguing, and if you wait the next three, four, five seasons, then the Orlando Magic could look like one of the most exciting intrigues in the NBA.
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