It has to be hard work being a GM of any team in any sport. You are the money man, the problem solver, the negotiator, simply put, you are in control. You have your GMs that fail season after season with terrible trades, bad signings, and outrageously stupid draft picks but then you get the ones with that golden touch. You know the kind, the ones where every decision they make is right on the money.
Presti has been with the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2007 when they were still the Seattle SuperSonics meaning, you guessed it, he drafted Kevin Durant. But it didn’t end there. He’s also responsible for the drafting of Russell Westbrook Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka and James Harden over the course of his career. Take a second to let that lineup sink in. Westbrook who is an All-Star, Durant, All-Star, Harden, All-Star, Ibaka, one of the best defensive big men in the game and Green, a do-it-all SF. There are a few hidden gems in there with Steve Adams as well but looking at that core of players just mentioned you would see why the Thunder were always in title talks.[embedit snippet=”2″]
It’s safe to say that Durant was going to be a star. He tore the college scene up while at Texas and Harden did the same for Arizona State but the others were a bit of a reach. Westbrook played second fiddle to Kevin Love while at UCLA, Ibaka skipped and Green was not that treasure coming out of Georgetown. But together they would become something special. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to see it until it was too late.
All but one on these five players remain. Two were traded and two left but what if that never transpired? Could they have been better than the San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat? Yes. The talent Presti assembled was just beginning to blossom but maybe they were too good to play as a unit or they just didn’t figure it out in time.
To understand how great that could have been we have to fast forward to the 2016-17 NBA season.
Westbrook is averaging a triple-double (31/11/11), Durant is going for his 2nd MVP (27/8/5), Harden is playing out of his mind (28/8/12), Ibaka is buried with a bunch of bigs ( 15/7/2) and Green is the ultra reserve/starter ( 8/3/1). When they were together they were young and still getting to know each other’s game. There were flaws in each but if they had the time to jell as one, there’s no telling how far this unit would have gone.
The Heat super team were already established stars and so was the Celtics with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. The Spurs, much like the Thunder were built from the draft. Each of those NBA Championship teams had what the Thunder didn’t, time. It’s a shame we were robbed of their growth as a team but as we witness what they have become individually it makes you sit and wonder. Like, how deadly they could have been if they had time.