Sam Presti presser 5 takeaways: small markets, George comments, franchise direction

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
New OKC Thunder players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul. Could they be WC x-factor? (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) /

Based on questions about specific players there were a few key takeaways to glean from the GM’s responses.

Shai Gigeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley are the only untouchables:

I could be missing the mark but it sure felt like Presti is buying in large on Bazley who the club projects to be special. Still a teenager the Thunder recognize this will be a process but as Wesbrook departs perhaps Bazley has become his new project.

Likewise, the franchise is thrilled with the acquisition of SGA (as they should be) who becomes the cornerstone of the future. Presti has always preferred lengthy, athletic players with the ability to defend and SGA is tailor-made for the prototypical Thunder player. It’s unlikely he ascends to the superstar level, but he has all the chops to be a future All-Star and after 11 years of running a team with a score first point guard, perhaps Presti is embracing a second phase featuring a playmaking point guard at the helm.

Chris Paul is motivated:

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In numerous responses during the day, Presti cited how excited Chris Paul is to be joining the club and ready to make a difference. Reading between the lines it would be fair to assume CP3 knows how his reputation has taken a hit and instead of Harden being questioned all the blame has fallen on him.

In fairness, the contract CP3 is earning and his health adds to the narrative but I’d expect the enigmatic point guard to arrive at camp with a keen interest of showcasing and reminding the Association of his talent and more importantly ability to lead.

Everything Paul does in OKC will be viewed under a microscope by playoff contenders, so don’t be surprised if he’s putting up better numbers than last season (which were still impressive).

Adams is a mystery:

It was hard to read in between the comments Presti was making about Adams. I almost felt like the GM is annoyed by Adams as he cited the big man’s slow steady growth each season. On one hand it felt like he was praising his continual growth and on the other hand, it seemed like he was disappointed the growth wasn’t happening fast enough.

At his season end presser, there were similar comments of this being a down season for the Big Kiwi so perhaps it was a matter of frustration. Certainly, Enes Kanter outplaying him in the playoffs didn’t bode well and might be where this is stemming from.