How Sam Presti’s diverse background helped him build the Thunder’s roster
Presti’s NBA career took off with the San Antonio Spurs, an organization that is known for being relatively quiet with their moves. While Presti, no doubt, learned much from that organization, when he took over the organization he did something the Spurs would never do: he started out with a bang. Presti traded away the Sonics’ best player, Ray Allen.
What a change it was for the organization. Presti was letting it be known that things were to be done his way and that he had a plan in place. Presti got it all started off right with the draft in 2007, taking Kevin Durant. Presti was lucky that Durant fell to him. Durant would become the center of Presti’s master plan.
Presti, Durant, and the rest of the Sonics organization would soon go through a huge change, though: a controversial move to a new town, Oklahoma City.
When the team moved to OKC, Presti did not mess around, drafting Russell Westbrook.
Another questionable call from Presti. many did not believe Westbrook could excel at point guard, but Presti was counting on him exploding. Westbrook wouldn’t play a single second in a Sonics jersey, as his rookie year came in the franchise’s first season in OKC as the Thunder.
As it turns out, Presti worked his drafting magic and was able to find another superstar in Westbrook.
Sam finally had two guys he needed in Durant and Westbrook, and the on-court play could not have been better. He was able to draft James Harden and Serge Ibaka the next year, and the tough losing soon turn into budding success.
The Thunder looked like an unstoppable team for the future; then, the Harden problem came. Presti was forced to trade Harden and everything would go down from there. The team struggled to stay healthy and never reached the NBA Finals again.
Here we are today, and Presti only has his iffy pick (at the time) in Russell Westbrook. All of his other stars are gone, but somehow Oklahoma City still has hope. He has still managed to build a team that will contend in the playoffs next season.
How? How has Presti been so successful after all that he has gone through?
The answer is simple: Presti is different. He has stepped out of the box and built a team in ways that no other organizations have been built.
When talking about Presti and his unusual ways, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman had this to say:
Presti has assembled a diverse and inclusive collection of talent on and off the court, work for which he will be honored Tuesday as the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice’s 2016 Oklahoma City Humanitarian.
He has hired people into positions never held by someone with their background. He has hired others for positions that have never even existed in the NBA much less with the Thunder.
When Presti began his journey with the Thunder, he was relatively unknown, and now he is changing the NBA with his work. He has shown the right way to not only build a team, but to build a new city of support. He deserves every award that Oklahoma City will give him.
The awards will not be enough for Presti. No, what the man truly needs is a title for this Thunder team.
There will be all kinds of questions about Presti’s moves, but Thunder fans all over must trust that he has a master plan in place. As long as Presti is around, the Thunder will not go away quietly.