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Thunder basketball is officially back once OKC General Manager Sam Presti holds his first media press conference of the season. So as of 10am this morning, I’m happy to announce that Thunder hoops has returned.
Presti has been accused of saying a whole lot without saying a whole lot of anything. But for those fluent in Prestiese, the message of today’s Sammy sit down was very clear: the Thunder will be patient with this rebuild, will not skip steps and will use this season to find a baseline for this young squad.
Lucky for you, Daily Thunder reader, I have an honorary degree in Prestiese so I’ve highlighted some of the best soundbytes from the opening remarks of the Presti presser and will now translate their meaning below.
Presti: It is certainly a unique year last year. I don’t know about for everybody else, but it’s like a time warp of sorts because in getting ready to do this press conference today, I was thinking about the fact that a year ago we didn’t have a coach. Chris Paul and Steven Adams were still on the Thunder, and we were about like 20 days removed from a playoff series with the Rockets where it went down to the last possession.
Translation: Yo, stop saying “when is this rebuild going to finally be over?” because it’s only been a year, bro.
Presti: A year ago we didn’t really know what we had in Shai. It was the first time he was going to play point guard for us, and the strides that he’s made in less than a calendar year are really remarkable and a credit to his mentality and intellectual maturity for such a young player.
Translation: SGA is awesome.
Presti: This year for us is as much about anything as getting a baseline of where we’re at, now that we have a grouping of young players that will compete to figure out who will be here for the long term and who can help us cultivate the next era of Thunder basketball. I think that’s incredibly exciting, but I also think it’s necessary.
There’s going to be challenges that come with that. I don’t see any reason why we should be shying away from that. I think I said this at the end of my press conference last year; I don’t believe in like bubble wrapping people from adversity. People talk about adversity being really important to growth when it’s convenient to them, but I think it actually is universally important.
Translation: We had to get rid of guys like Kemba cause we gotta give all these young dudes minutes and see who can stick around long term. And yeah, that means we’re not gonna win a lot of games this year but it’s better long term and we comin’ for that top 5 pick. Deal with it.
Presti: We have no idea how the season will unfold. The last couple years, people made pretty strong proclamations about what they thought would take place for the team. Shortly thereafter, the season started, they started to distance themselves from some of the opinions they shared because nobody really understands, and I would never place any limits on our team and the potential of a group that plays the right way as committed to each other and competes.
Translation: Then again, we thought we were gonna stink the last couple years and all these young try-hards keep messing up our draft picks.
Presti: We’re certainly not competing with our past. We’ve had, as I said, 13 years where we’ve been one of the better teams in the league. We’re going through a cycle that every team in pro sports, for the most part, enters and I don’t think that we’re ever going to be able to go back in time and recreate what has taken place in 2008 because that was over ten years ago.
That portion of Thunder history has just been remarkable, and quite frankly, the group of players we have now are certainly standing on the shoulders of the last ten years and the people that have been here and the traditions that have been established. But the beauty of where we are right now is that we’re really in an opportunity to craft our own future and start to write our own history knowing that it’s going to take time. We’ve been very open about that and transparent.
Translation: OKC fans have been a wee bit spoiled by having superstars and contending teams every year in our existence. We want to get there again, but sheesh, pretty please be patient cause gonna take more than one offseason.
Presti: This is a hard thing to do. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of people try to avoid it. They don’t like to do it because, at the end of the day, it’s easier to talk about being competitive but not really trying to do the things that will get you to the top of the mountain, or at least figure out if you can.
I think the most competitive thing to do is to establish a baseline and try to build it organically and grow it organically and build it to sustain, and that’s really what we’re doing, but we know it’s going to take time. I’m sure there’s some people that are worried that we’ll take shortcuts or we’re just going to try to shortcut the process or lose our discipline, the discipline that we’ve demonstrated over the course of time or that we’re just looking for short-term solutions to what’s really a long-term project. I can assure you that less than a calendar year into a process, especially one in which we couldn’t practice, and I still feel like we got a lot of answers last year, but that’s not really in our purview right now.
Translation: Stop putting Karl-Anthony Towns and Ben Simmons in your OKC trade machine trades, it ain’t happening.
Presti: We have a saying in the organization that people celebrate the breakthrough, but what really gets honored is the path, and I’ll give you a few examples. As a result of that, I think ultimately when we are playing really high-level basketball in Oklahoma City and the arena is on fire and we’re in the postseason and fans have witnessed the come up and understand the time, they’re going to look back on a few things.
One will be the night that Shai hit that shot against Charlotte last year with .3 seconds on the clock, and it was probably the first time a lot of people said, ‘wait a second, wait a second, this guy’s got a chance to be pretty good.’
Translation: We’re gonna make OKC great again. Oh and SGA is awesome.