OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti annual preseason presser offered his typical optimism however, as usual, required the ability to read between the lines.
With OKC Thunder General Manager, Sam Presti taking the podium for his annual preseason presser social media lit up. However, the first big takeaway centered on the G.M.’s appearance rather than his comments. Fans and beat writers alike were all agog over Presti’s beard. Perhaps with all the dramatic offseason changes to the club, Presti felt it was time for a newly bearded man (albeit with a significant grey section) in Oklahoma City.
In fact, the first question posed by the press inquired about his beard. Presti said he began growing it during his annual getaway to decompress. This summer that trip was to Vermont and since his wife didn’t balk at the new look the G.M. decided to keep it — for now.
Sticking to his usual process, Presti began the presser with a brief statement prior to opening the floor to the assembled press. Unlike the past several seasons this year, Presti focused on the process. Could this be a precursor to the Thunder eventually taking a 76ers-like approach to the future?
Are the OKC Thunder promoting a new version of “the process”?
The following excerpt comes at 3:15 of the video:
I think when we look at a season over the course of the 11 years we’ve been here, our best work has always been when we’ve focused on process and not just simply outcome, and I think for the majority of the time we’ve been able to do that. So taking an 82-game approach, making sure that we’re not using all the bullets on Monday night at the expense of Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, but really being intelligent about how we manage the year, watching the development not only of the individual players throughout the season and their pathways to improve but also the development of the team. Those are going to be the focuses that I think are going to be important for us to optimize this season.
Reading between the lines of Presti’s above statement a few things stand out. First, the vets on the team like Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari will likely be load-managed. Expect OKC Thunder Head Coach, Billy Donovan to exercise caution with these two players specifically. The reason for this approach is logical given the club will focus on trading them this season to gain additional young assets and draft picks to replenish the future squad.
The second point in the above excerpt which stood out was the focus on “development”. More than anything the growth and development of the youngsters and the club this season will be the main criteria for Billy Donovan’s ability to retain his job.
Of note, Presti’s full press conference video is further down in this article and can be viewed in its entirety.
Next, let’s dive into the other four main takeaways from Presti’s response to the media and what we can read between what he said and more importantly didn’t say.