Presti can draw inspiration from Damian Lillard and De’Aaron Fox in OKC Thunder rebuild

OKC Thunder: Blazers Damian Lillard, Kings De'Aaron Fox - the template (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Blazers Damian Lillard, Kings De'Aaron Fox - the template (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Clearly, Fox and Lillard aren’t the majority – but then again it’s also true not every player is a superstar or a leader. It takes a special talent to rise to that level and a special type of player to have the gumption to set their own standards. In the case of Fox, his comments regarding the Kings being the only game in Sacramento also ring true in OKC.

Similarly, Lillard’s comments about his loyalty and commitment to Portland are more about his relationship in the community are something the OKC Thunder must be delirious to hear. This franchise has always prided itself on the community in terms of their loyalty, and unique relationship with the team.

As Shai Gilgeous-Alexander prepares for his first season with the OKC Thunder it might be too early to assign too many expectations. However, for all intents and purposes, the Canadian was deemed untouchable by the Clippers and only a perennial All-Star and potential multiple award winner moved the Clippers off protecting him.

SGA will presumably be tapped as the initial cornerstone piece of the future. His desires regarding his long term commitment in OKC aren’t obvious, however, there are hints to his character already.

The point guard made it clear he isn’t afraid to make his own mark nor is he comfortable with anyone presuming he’ll want to walk in the shoes of the man who was everything to this franchise. That’s not to say he doesn’t want to carve out his own place within the franchise. His recent statements to Erik Horne of the Oklahoman were candid and without pretense.

"I am not Russell Westbrook. I do not have the same name, same body type, stuff like that. So, I’m just going to try to be myself and be the best me and everything else will take care of itself."

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Those words should be comforting to a fanbase who just witnessed a period where six days changed the entire landscape of the organization. The fact is Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t going to sugar coat his statements.

At every level, he’s been put in a position where he was seemingly underestimated and repeatedly rose to the occasion to prove his detractors wrong. If there is one characteristic he shares with Westbrook it’s his unflappable desire to excel and win. He may also turn out to be one of those once in a generation stars like Fox and Lillard.

Moving forward, one thing is certain, regardless of the talent Sam Presti will add with the copious draft picks he has in hand, who those prospects are as a person off the hardwood will be equally important to who they are on it.

Next. The Future of the Thunder, an in-depth analysis of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. dark

The goal, of course, will be keeping the next superstars the OKC Thunder procure in Oklahoma City. To that end, the GM’s homework should include deciphering what makes Fox and Lillard so different and then select players of that ilk in the rebuild. At the very least we know there are two current NBA stars Presti can point to as examples.