The Oklahoma City Thunder wrapped up a fantastic season that stunned any rational expectation. The Thunder posted 40 wins this year, finishing a game away from the NBA Playoffs. This has allowed the fanbases’ imagination to run wild as the team adds Chet Holmgren and another top-12 pick to the fold next season. Sam Presti had some interesting comments about the expectations for next season at his annual exit interview: the 15th exit interview and counting of his career.
The OKC Thunder General Manager spoke with those of us in the media for two hours and twenty minutes. An abnormal amount of time for such a high-ranking executive (or anyone really), but Presti has done a great job of answering every question before him until we run out of them. That transparency should be appreciated in the media room and by the fanbase he is talking to in these moments.
The OKC Thunder have capped off a fantastic season that saw them fall a game away from the playoffs. But what should the expectations for next year be? Sam Presti discussed that very question.
The Oklahoma City Thunder saw Shai Gilgeous-Alexander take an All-NBA leap, Jalen Williams appears to have All-Star potential, Josh Giddey step up in year two, and the piece fits together to battle adversity and finish just two games shy of a .500 record.
That was a sticking point from Sam Presti, the fact this team still has not seen their record break. But, Presti said, “The one thing I do think relative to the expectations next year, and I understand that we don’t control those, I do think that we still have to remember, as many great things as have happened this year, we still have to finish our breakfast around here and understand that we’re not a .500 team.”
We have to finish our breakfast around here is a line that will stick with the OKC Thunder all offseason from their top decision-maker. Despite how great this team finished, it still is not time to rush into an all-in move yet. Presti pointed out that this team only played “exceptionally well” for two months of the season. Without those two months, what would this year look like?
This young Thunder team still needs to learn how to play at a consistently good clip, and while that is not impossible to happen this season, it is a difficult challenge.
The Thunder will also need to see how Chet Holmgren meshes with the team. It is hard to make an All-In move without understanding what flaws you need to fix. “When you are looking to buy a house, you do not buy the paint first,” Presti said.
Holmgren will change the entire outlook on this team. It is incredibly hard to find a matching partner for a big man, ask the Timberwolves, and the worst thing you can do is go get another big that does not mesh with your primary man in the middle. Again, I refer you to Minnesota.
So despite the leap we witnessed from the Oklahoma City Thunder on an individual level, which led to team success, and the confidence everyone should have in this organization moving forward, let’s pause the parade planning.
Next season, the play-in (which includes seeds 7-10, is still a success. This team also has the potential to burst onto the scene and grab a top-six seed. However, on the less fun side of the coin, there is also room for regression, which Sam Presti also addressed.
“The regression is, okay, you have to keep pounding through this and working through it, and I think if you have the right principles, the right mentality, and the right temperament, you can work through that and become a better player and a better team as a result of that.” the executive explained.
What are you expecting from this OKC Thunder team next year? Drop your predictions below in the comment section!