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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Thunder GM Presti’s Process Kicks Into Gear at 2022 NBA Draft

  • This is the highest draft pick Presti has had since selecting Kevin Durant in 2007.
  • OKC is expected to take Chet Holmgren, per ESPN.
The Oklahoman

The NBA might have ousted Sam Hinkie from Philadelphia in 2016, but there’s another Sam following a similar formula to the 76ers’ infamous “Process” — in Oklahoma City.

Sam Presti started the Thunder’s dramatic rebuild in 2020 by trading superstars for draft picks, young talent, and financial flexibility. 

Up until 2020, the team had made the postseason in 10 of 11 seasons — then suddenly fell into the lottery abyss with a 22-win season in 2020-21 and a 24-win tally this campaign.

For Presti, it was all part of the plan.

  • In Nov. 2020, OKC traded Chris Paul to the Suns for four role players and a 2022 first-round pick. 
  • One month later, the team unloaded Paul George for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and five first-rounders.

The Thunder have amassed 38 picks over the next six years — including the second and 16th overall picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Presti seemingly hit the jackpot with 2021 sixth-overall pick Josh Giddey, who tied Luka Doncic for the most triple-doubles (4) before turning 20.

Giddey (4 YRs, $27.2M) joined a core that includes guards Gilgeous-Alexander (5 YRs, $172M) and Lu Dort (4 YRs, $5.4M). That only clears the way for Presti to take Gonzaga standout big Chet Holmgren, who is reportedly a lock for the Thunder.

OKC’s $82 million payroll was by far the lowest in the NBA — $35.3 million below the second-lowest Memphis Grizzlies.

The space is now available for a possible franchise-changing selection with the highest draft pick Presti has had since selecting Kevin Durant second overall in 2007. His other top-four picks of that era also include Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

The Thunder lost by an NBA-record 73 points earlier this season, and they had the third-worst attendance in the league. Even their most committed fan even stopped watching for a little while.

But if Presti nails this one, he can finally start the Thunder’s rebuild in earnest. It just might take some time before the results show.

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