Lessons Sam Presti can learn from counterparts in Thunder rebuild

OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook and general manager Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook and general manager Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Head Coach Gregg Popovich, General Manager R.C. Buford of Spurs – the template to sustained success: Culture – Identity, OKC Thunder rebuild (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Culture matters:

On the one side of the equation are clubs who’ve excelled from developing a specific philosophy of what it means to be a member of their franchise. Inarguably the best example of that is the San Antonio Spurs who are led by GM RC Buford and Head Coach (read: savant) Gregg Popovich. In 30 seasons the Spurs have missed the playoffs ONCE! And they are currently on a streak of 22 consecutive appearances.

Although you can debate this squad isn’t likely to be a top contender this coming season it’s also a risky venture to bet against them ever being one player away from sweeping in to surprise all the competition.

Likewise, two clubs who are showcasing precisely how effective strong front offices equate to success are the Raptors and the Nets. Masai Ujiri has masterfully revamped Toronto with palpable results following this year’s championship. The Raptors could easily fit into several key categories as their development team ranks in the upper echelon while Ujiri and Head Coach Nick Nurse have also proven to be unafraid to adapt quickly and take calculated risks.

The Nets GM, Sean Marks inherited a club without options following prior GM Billy King’s unwise decision to trade Brooklyn’s future via copious unprotected draft picks in exchange for aging vets. In fairness to King, this was under the pressure from owner Mikhail Prokhorov to win immediately.

Marks turned around the Nets via a combination of savvy trades and draft picks for disenchanted players or ones considered risky choices due to previous health concerns. He brought in a coach (Kenny Atkinson) who instilled a winning, no quit approach and quickly built the identity of the club. It reaped massive dividends this summer putting the club in a position to contend for years.