To rebuild, or not to rebuild? That is the question for the Utah Jazz this season

With a 13-19 record (on pace for a .400 season), the Utah Jazz are stuck in the middle. They can't afford to stay there.

Dec 28, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) shoots against New
Dec 28, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) shoots against New / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports
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#3 - Get loads of assets and draft well while bottoming out - Oklahoma City Thunder (2020-2023)

Dec 27, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2)
Dec 27, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder's rebuild started in the summer of 2019 when in the wake of 3 straight first-round playoff losses, they made two mammoth trades.

The first trade sent All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a mountain of assets - Danilo Gallinari, Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander, and seven first-round picks (including one swap).


The second deal, 6 days later, sent All-Star and franchise cornerstone Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, for Chris Paul and 4 first-round picks.

The rumors at the time were that OKC would find a way to move Chris Paul's contract to another team, or buy out his remaining 2-year deal while the Thunder went in the tank.

However, Paul sparked the young Thunder to a 42-20 record and #5 record in the West, in the COVID-shortened season of 2019-20. Paul played at an All-NBA level at 35, and resuscitated his trade value, allowing the Thunder to move him to the Phoenix Suns before the 2020-21 season, as they were already confident they had their next star on the roster.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander broke out in 2020-21 with 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists on 50/41/80 shooting splits, and the Thunder positioned their transactions to complement and build a team around him through the draft and via trades.

They were 22-50 in 2020-21, 24-58 in 2021-22, and 42-40 in 2022-23 for a nice 3-year rebuild that is paying dividends in the 2023-24 season, where they are currently 20-9 and 3rd in the Western Conference.

The next moves that OKC makes are from a position of strength - they still have a war chest of future draft picks to dangle in any deal, and also several young, talented players that they could package if they wish to bring in a star alongside SGA and rookie Chet Holmgren and push from playoff team to title contender.