The Warriors built themselves up by drafting well — like picking Stephen Curry — which led to Golden State becoming a free-agent destination. The Nets tried to force it all at once and it backfired. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Warriors, Nets offer case study in properly building NBA teams

The Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors underwent ownership changes a months apart in 2010.

At the time, both teams were basement-dwellers of their respective conferences. Accordingly, the new owners — Joe Lacob for the Dubs, Mikhail Prokhorov — promised better days were ahead.

What resulted was a lesson in how and how-not to build a winning NBA team.

Golden State played the long game by building through the draft — selecting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green over a four-year span — and by trading for complementary role players with favorable contracts.

The then-New Jersey Nets decided to make a splash to coincide their move to Brooklyn. In 2013 — a year after making the playoffs for the first time in six years — the team essentially mortgaged its future by making a blockbuster deal for aging versions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

The deal cost the Nets three draft picks and cap flexibility for the future. They made the playoffs the next two years, winning one series during that timeframe.

Meanwhile, the Warriors blossomed into one of the best teams of a generation, winning a title in 2015, breaking the regular-season record for most wins in 2016 and becoming a free-agent destination for a top-three talent in the league.

The two teams meet today in the Barclay’s Center with the Dubs leading the West at 25-4 (on pace for 70-plus wins) and the Nets a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks for worst record in the league.

They both play fast, but to differing levels of success. Brooklyn leads the league in pace, but is in the bottom three for assist/turnover ratio, net rating and point differential. The Dubs dominate in those areas.

If Golden State is able to get hot in the first half of tonight’s game, they should be able to put the Nets away early and allow their starters some rest before heading to Detroit for the second game of a back-to-back on Friday.

If the Nets are going to keep this game close, they’ll need scoring from former Warrior Jeremy Lin — one of the first signees under Lacob — and they’ll have to win the battle in the paint with their talented big men Trevor Booker and former Stanford Cardinal center Brook Lopez. Otherwise, it will be another blowout for a Dubs team that hasn’t played a close game since its last road trip.

You can reach Jacob C. Palmer via email at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.

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