Skip to content

Thunder GM Sam Presti admits ‘good fortune’ was key to OKC’s rebuilding success

Jun 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

Serge Ibaka, Sam Presti AP

The Thunder have emerged as a perennial contender in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to the job that the team’s general manager, Sam Presti, has done in rebuilding the franchise.

But even he himself will tell you that luck played an important part in that success.

Many have touted the OKC model as the proper way build a team when you’re essentially starting from scratch, and there’s some truth to that when you consider that bottoming out and accumulating draft picks is the easiest way to acquire multiple players capable of becoming stars while being relatively inexpensive on their rookie contracts.

It’s also a bit flawed, however, because not everyone is going to be as fortunate to have draft picks in consecutive seasons work out as well as they did in Oklahoma City.

From Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

Kevin Durant was the second overall pick in 2007 of the Seattle SuperSonics, who became the Thunder. That was an easy choice after the Portland Trail Blazers selected center Greg Oden first overall. A year later, the Sonics selected at No. 4 Russell Westbrook, who wasn’t such a consensus pick, and later in the first round, general manager Sam Presti grabbed Congolese forward Serge Ibaka and allowed him to stay with his Spanish team for another season.

All three of those picks worked better than expected. Durant and Westbrook are perennial All-Stars, and Ibaka is one of the best defenders in the NBA. Presti was astute, but he admits luck played its part.

“We’ll be the first to say that we’ve had a tremendous amount of good fortune. Nobody in our organization is taking credit for the development of Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook,” said Presti, a Concord native and former Emerson College player. “Our focus was on building a team that was capable of sustainable competitive success. We felt like building through the draft and building an identity for a team over a period of years was the best approach for us. It’s really so much about the individual team and organization and how they see their envisioned future.”

Rebuilding through the draft is indeed a sound strategy, for all the reasons we’ve already mentioned. But it requires sharp scouting and quite a bit of that “good fortune” Presti mentioned in order for it to truly work out to perfection.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Derrick Williams agrees to two-year, $10 million deal with Knicks

    Jul 4, 2015, 12:33 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings AP

    At this price, it’s a fair pickup for New Yor, giving hem another role player.

  2. Report: DeAndre Jordan’s relationship with Chris Paul was ‘demonstrably poor’

    Jul 3, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul AP

    A big reason Jordan left L.A. to sign with the Mavericks.

  3. Report: Patrick Beverley re-signs on four-year deal to remain with Rockets

    Jul 3, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Beverley’s defense provides a perfect complement to James Harden.

  4. Reports: Corey Brewer agrees to three-year deal to stay with Rockets

    Jul 3, 2015, 6:27 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six Getty Images

    He is a good fit in the Rockets’ up-tempo system.

  5. Becky Hammon to coach Spurs in summer league

    Jul 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Two Getty Images

    She’s a San Antonio assistant coach

  6. Report: Gary Neal agrees to one-year, $2.1 million deal with Wizards

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves

    Key for the Wizards is this is a one-year deal, so they save their cap space for a Kevin Durant offer next summer.

  7. Report: D’Andre Jordan informs Knicks they are out of running

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler AP

    This was expected, now the Knicks move forward with Robin Lopez.

  8. Report: Wizards trying to trade Nene

    Jul 3, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Washington could land David West

  9. Nets adding young talent in Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Thomas Robinson, Thaddeus Young AP

    Brooklyn making most of a self-inflicted bad situation

  10. Report: David West likely to sign with Spurs or Wizards

    Jul 3, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    David West, Patty Mills AP

    If LaMarcus Aldridge signs elsewhere, San Antonio makes a lot of sense

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (5624)
  2. D. Wade (4499)
  3. L. James (3398)
  4. G. Monroe (3361)
  5. W. Matthews (3305)
  1. D. Jordan (3271)
  2. K. Bryant (3022)
  3. J. Embiid (2988)
  4. T. Harris (2874)
  5. K. Love (2782)