The OKC Thunder have been in the midst of a rebuild for the last few seasons. After trading away Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2019, the Thunder made a surprise playoff run in 2019-20, tracking to be a home-court advantage team in the West before the Pandemic.
Following the bubble, Sam Presti traded away Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, and almost anything not bolted down. On top of that surprise season, the Thunder netted a historic amount of draft assets, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has emerged as one of the best players in the league.
After two downtrodden seasons, the OKC Thunder selected Josh Giddey with the 6th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Chet Holmgren with the 2nd pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Ousmane Dieng with the 11th pick in the same NBA Draft, and Jalen Williams with the 12th pick in the same draft.
Despite missing Chet Holmgren for the entire 2022-23 season, after just a two-season absence, the OKC Thunder made it back to the postseason, playing in the play-in tournament on the back of an SGA breakout, Jalen Williams’s resplendent rookie season and a Mark Daigneault system that worked to perfection.
Now, the Thunder have another top-ten pick in the fold (Cason Wallace, 2023), a two-time EuroLeague MVP coming in (Vasilije Micic), and the return of Chet Holmgren, which is already off to a fantastic start. Along the way, the OKC Thunder have found ways to compile depth to couple with their youngsters.
NBA Legend Gregg Popovich gives high praise to OKC Thunder, saying NBA teams should emulate their model.
The NBA world is expecting another leap from the OKC Thunder after the franchise made a 16-win improvement a year ago without all of its pieces. The journey toward the next step in this rebuild started on Monday in the preseason against the San Antonio Spurs.
As is customary before the game, Gregg Popovich spoke with those of us in the Media and was asked for his thoughts on the OKC Thunder rebuild.
Popovich called Sam Presti, who spent valuable time in San Antonio, “A pain in the ass.” before adding, “[Presti] is brilliant, he is fantastic. [Sam Presti] and Clay [Bennett, OKC Thunder owner] have built a class organization. Something everyone in the league should emulate.”
As the National Media tries to pick apart this rebuild, some even going as far as to call Oklahoma City the “Black Eye of the League,” people within the NBA hold the Thunder in high regard.
Gregg Popovich knows how hard it is to build a successful franchise, especially in a small market, and the five-time NBA Champion coach was highly complimentary of the OKC Thunder on Monday.