Success can be measured in several ways for NBA franchises over the course of a season. It can come through securing a quality draft selection, standing among the 16 teams that annually qualify for the postseason or seeing the bottom-line in the black. But the most flattering mark of success is when opposing franchises begin following suit, emulating your team’s blueprint and plotting a similar path to success. Surprisingly, after 43 wins in the past two seasons, the Oklahoma City Thunder has risen to that level of respectability. "I think teams that are in a rebuilding stage are looking to be a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder,” said Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who leads his Western Conference-worst Wolves into the Ford Center tonight. "They really set the bar for where teams in a rebuilding stage want to be.” A year ago, the storyline in Oklahoma City was whether the Thunder could successfully implement past plans seen in San Antonio, Portland and Atlanta. Now, teams like Minnesota, Sacramento, Washington and, to an extent, Indiana are patterning themselves after the Thunder. "We’re hoping to be like them,” Love said of the Thunder. "They turned their season around quickly.” With his team still just a 33-win outfit, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti likes to point out that nothing of significance has been accomplished, even if the Thunder has exceeded every expectation this season. On the contrary, the team is on pace to win 48 games, a 25-game improvement over last season, and return to the postseason for the first time since 2005. It’s an even more remarkable turnaround when compared to the Wolves, who entered the rebuilding stage the same summer as the Thunder but walk into the Ford Center tonight at just 14-45. And Minnesota, you could argue, had a head start in its renovation when it netted talented big man Al Jefferson in the mega deal that sent Kevin Garnett to Boston. Jefferson was added to a mix that included 2005 14th overall pick Rashad McCants and 2006 seventh overall pick Randy Foye. Even with 2007 seventh overall pick Corey Brewer, 2008 fifth overall pick Love and 2009 sixth overall pick Jonny Flynn, the Wolves still find themselves searching for the Thunder’s recipe for success. The formula is basic. Presti began by freeing the franchise of problematic contracts to overpaid, underachieving players. He then stockpiled draft picks and made the most of the selections after acquiring them. He took Kevin Durant second overall, traded for fifth overall pick Jeff Green, "reached” for Russell Westbrook at fourth overall, selected James Harden third overall and landed Serge Ibaka 24th overall. Thabo Sefolosha was acquired from Chicago in exchange for the first-round draft pick the Thunder received in the Johan Petro-Chucky Atkins trade with Denver. With ample salary cap space, the Thunder can now allow its young core to grow together and reward those who flourish with lucrative contract extensions without worrying about becoming a luxury tax team. It’s a process that requires patience and persistence that few franchises are capable of employing. The Kings, 17-65 a year ago and just 18-39 this season, are giving it a go. Sacramento recently traded franchise player Kevin Martin to get out from under his remaining three-year, $36 million contract and build around Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes. The Wizards began their demolition by parting with former All-Stars Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison to clear cap space and pave the way for young players’ development. But the unheralded source to the Thunder’s success is a clear-cut commitment to an identity. The same repetitive, almost robotic, responses that Presti and coach Scott Brooks supply have sparked the Thunder’s improvement in the standings. "The process is just every day to get better and focus on our core values. That is defense and sharing the ball on offense,” Brooks said. "And we have to continue to figure out ways to improve. You can’t just expect it’s going to happen. You have to keep motivating guys and finding ways to get them excited about each other and about the team. And our guys do a great job of really believing in team.” Text "OKTHUNDER” to 65360 for your chance to win an Official Adidas No. 35 Kevin Durant Jersey. NewsOK OKC Thunder news text alerts sponsored by Totally Tickets.