I also like that OKC has already risen out of the tanking ranks and likely makes the play in… did it in 3 years and without the benefit of their most recent lotto prospect while also stacking the deck with picks and simultaneously building a great reputation among vets like CP and Horford.
First of all OKC future looks bright I will give you that.. but they are not yet a contender so lets not use them as a "prime benchmark" prematurely. Secondly, the guy who is their lone all star and carrying them towards the play-in is drafted #13 and not even by OKC. Thirdly, Chet had one big concern coming out of college, which was.... well.. potential injuries. I don't know how many games Chet will play next season, but the red flag is certainly still there.
However there is a very good benchmark team in this league... which is Memphis. They are still pretty well set in terms of draft assets despite looking extremely competitive. They blew up the team in 2017 and drafted JJJ and Ja in the next 2 drafts... along with Dillon Brooks. Added Bane one year later with a late pick.
I would put us on the 3rd season (2019-20, finished 34-39) in their timeline.. seeing we got an all star along with a great starting piece and potential future all star with some guys behind them showing promise. Our record also indicates we are playing at that level. We have more assets than they did at that point, but we also have slightly more needs to round out the roster and are older than they were back then. Also having Lauri and Kessler still on cheap contracts gives us incredible flexibility in terms of trading and signing FA to round out the roster.
Tanking now and thinking those top of the draft rookies would make us better than we were this year with these vets is not realistic. If we tank now, we will be bad next year as well. I dont know if there ever was a team who tanked without major injuries and rebounded to be good the following year. If we suck next year that might push the top 10 protected 2024 FRP we owe forward to 2025 which would be risky since from 2026 onwards our picks have swap rights with CLE/MIN. It would also push our window forward, and push us further away from that Memphis timeline.
Drafting well this year is very important... but staying competitive is also important for the reasons outlined above. So DA being opportunistic instead of going all in on either win-now / tank is the best approach. The notion we are gonna tank is not supported by any rumors or anything DA has said or done this year. I would much rather discuss other ways to build our way towards the top.