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Sam Presti on the Rebuild: A Retrospective

Sam Presti on the Rebuild: A Retrospective

It’s May 20, 2021, and Sam Presti is meeting with the media.  The Oklahoma City Thunder just wrapped a 22-win season, and the Thunder GM had a message to share:

It will take time.

A year and just 24 wins later, the message remained similar, with a touch more optimism:

We’re closer to being the team we want to be this season than we were last season, but we’re still really far away from ultimately getting to the level we want to be at.

The signs of growth were there.  The team was progressing, and a message of patience was being replaced by statements of belief. Even after Chet Holmgren was declared out for the season after suffering a foot injury in the summer league, Presti began to forecast brighter days ahead.

In his pre-season availability before the 2022-23 season, Presti was gushing about the roster and the mindset of the players. He knew he had talent on the roster and that the development paths were aligning. And if the young core could have their prime years overlap?

I think we have a chance to be pretty good.

This afternoon, OKC will play with a chance to secure the top spot in the Western Conference and guarantee home-court advantage through the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder needs a few things to go its way to lock in the #1 seed, but there will be home games in Oklahoma City. The Thunder will have home court advantage at least in the first round. The team is, as Presti might say, “pretty good.”

Looking back to that pre-season press conference in September 2022, Presti shared a story about an interaction he had in the Oklahoma City airport.

I was walking through the airport the other day, and I was just walking, and someone yelled from behind me, “Thunder Up!”. God, that made me feel good. It made me feel really good. What it made me feel is God, I want this – I really want the people here to experience another postseason.

Just three years removed from a 22-win season, two years removed from a 24-win season, and one year removed from a quick ouster from the play-in tournament, Sam Presti has the team primed for another postseason.

Thunder Up, Sam.