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Sam Presti defends his aggressive tanking strategy — "Go look at history. Go study how many drafts it takes"

Sam Presti slammed those who have criticized the Oklahoma City Thunder's tanking antics.
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti

Sam Presti

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti has garnered a good amount of criticism for his tanking antics. To recall, his team finished with a 24-58 record — bad enough for the fourth-best lottery odds. At face value, one could surmise that the Thunder is a bad team. But the games show that there were many player absences and player rotations that did not make sense.

Opinionated vs. Informed

Presti was blunt in his response to accusations of tanking. He didn’t outright admit it. But he had a message to those who slammed him without knowing how the way things actually work. Presti reminded everyone of their financial maneuvers to get where they are right now.

Not everybody should be a publisher at the end of the day. No offense, but — and that’s not directed to anybody in here specifically,” Presti said, per USA Today.

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But I do think there’s a difference between being opinionated and being informed. I’d rather be informed than opinionated. The information is we’ve gone — we went 12 years and we put everything we had into that. Like everything. We taxed the team, no pun intended, to the point where, like, financially the third smallest market in the NBA shouldn’t be asked to go to that level in order to compete,” Presti added.

Look at history

Presti knows that tanking is necessary. He knows that it takes time to craft a playoff team, let alone a squad that can be considered a legitimate title threat. It’s an uphill battle for small-market teams like the Thunder, who are not blessed with lucrative TV deals and sponsorships.

Rebuilding in the West, go look at history. Go study how many drafts it takes. Find your team, find the one that you think is successful and then work back from there. How many years does it take to get to one playoff appearance in the West? How many years does it take to get to two, back to back? That’s a lot different,” Presti said.

Presti is citing NBA history and the Thunder’s experience as well. To recall, the Thunder made it to the NBA Finals in 2012. Before they got there, they were diligent in scouting the top prospects worldwide. They were able to snag the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in consecutive drafts. The only sad thing is, that they failed to keep the big three together.

Safe to say that Presti and the Thunder are still absorbing the lessons from that botched powerhouse squad. And together with their line of first-round draft picks in the coming years, their good and bad experiences will guide them in their quest to become a contending team once again.

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