With the only realistic way of the NBA returning to Seattle being expansion, I have been thinking about how an organization can succeed as an expansion franchise. As we can see with the past expansion teams, success is not guaranteed. There are a number of different factors that play into the future of any franchise; solid ownership and drafting well are both essentials for sustained success. With expansion however, there are some extra potholes fledgling franchises need to avoid. Without further adieu, here is a couple of moves new franchises should make to not be the new Bobcats of the league.
Solid ownership is a must for any franchise, especially the new ones. Success starts at the very top of organizations and has a way of making its way through to the lower levels, like a legit "trickle down" theory. A good ownership group provides a general vision for the organization as a whole and will make the necessary moves to put the franchise in a successful position. A good ownership group usually leads to a good front office, and a good front office leads to good player decisions.
Which brings me to another point, you can't have a good franchise without good players. The players are the largest determinant to the bottom line and success. Starting off on the right foot with the expansion draft should be of the highest priority. The players the other organizations do not protect do not fit with their big picture. It is the new franchises responsibility to take all these miss matched pieces and fitting them together to make a presentable picture. It wont be easy and the team will not be the greatest to watch, but progress and development should mitigate that somewhat. Me personally, I would look at league veterans that can contribute to a stable locker room and promising D-Leaguers. I believe that the D-League has some serious players waiting for their chance to show their stuff. With that being said, you have to do your research. There are a lot of raw players that can have a couple of good games, looking at you Sundiata Gaines.
And God help an expansion team who drafts bad. Superstars may not come around every draft, but that is no excuse for drafting the wrong player. Luck does play a role of course, but with all of the access available to organizations now-a-days, complete misses should be reduced. The process of the draft is a major part of any rebuilding franchise, but it is of higher importance for the young franchises of the league. Building through free agency is an option for these franchises, but you don't see many free agents clamoring to join a potentially promising expansion team in the early years. Looking at the past signings of the Bobcats, headlined by none other than Tyrus Thomas, is pretty hilarious and depressing for expansion teams Because of this, the early draft picks of expansion teams are likely to shape the team for the foreseeable future and misses are likely to stall any sort of growth a team would experience.
Success is completely possible for expansion teams. There is just a significantly smaller margin of error for these teams. But hey, just watching a team to try would be pretty enjoyable in and of itself.