Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis laid out in his 10-Point Plan his high-level approach to building a successful franchise. With the team carrying the league’s worst record and lacking in successful planning; it’s a convenient time to revisit the following tenets of the Plan:
4. Commit to building around the draft. Invest in scouting, development, and a system. Articulate that system and stay with it so that all players feel comfortable-- know the language-- know what is expected of them-- read the Oriole Way*. It worked and it is a great tutorial. Draft players that fit the system, not the best player. Draft the best player for the system. Don't deviate or get seduced by agents, media demands, or by just stats or hype. Envision how this player will slide into your system.
5. Be patient with young players-- throw them in the pool to see if they can swim. Believe in them. Show them loyalty. Re-sign the best young players to long term high priced deals. Show the players you are very loyal to them as compared to free agents who achieved highly for another team. Teach them. Celebrate their successes. Use failures as a way to teach and improve. Coaches must be tough but kind to build confidence.
Ted’s plan worked very well for the Washington Capitals, a franchise that was resurrected irrelevance and made into a perennial contender. The Capitals drafted well and built well upon an infrastructure of young talent.
Applying this strategy to professional basketball, it’s clear that Leonsis would ideally like to mirror the Oklahoma City Thunder model. This team has drafted remarkably well and made savvy acquisitions.