Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Presti wins the NBA offseason

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Paul George /

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti wins the NBA offseason by swiping Paul George away from several other contenders

If Russell Westbrook is looking for a reason(s) to commit long term to the Oklahoma City Thunder, General Manager Sam Presti just gave him an offseason full of them.

June 30, when NBA reporters and fans eagerly awaited the start of free agency – and Adrian Wojnarowski’s ESPN debut – Presti was quietly working the phones. He had something up his sleeve that no one could’ve seen coming.

Not only did Presti make perhaps the biggest splash of the summer, but he delivered a legit superstar to Russell Westbrook just a year after losing Kevin Durant.

Nobody expected Oklahoma City to land Paul George. They were never really considered potential suitors. George was supposed to be dealt to Cleveland, Boston, Houston or Los Angeles.

But the deal with Cleveland or Houston never materialized, Boston got greedy with its assets (depending on who you’re willing to believe) and Los Angeles is willing to wait a year.

Enter Sam Presti, who flipped Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for George.

Oladipo is a solid player and will contribute immediately for the Pacers. However, he’s yet to live up to his pre-draft expectations and is on a terrible contract (due $63M over the next three years). Sabonis had a solid rookie season (5.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG), but he’s by no means a franchise cornerstone.

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Paul George won’t make OKC fans forget about Kevin Durant, but he’s the perfect partner for Russell Westbrook. Last season, OKC’s offense relied too heavily on Westbrook and that showed in the playoffs.

Now, though, George can help carry the load.

Per NBA.com, Oklahoma City averaged 107.9 points per 100 possessions with Westbrook on the court and 97.4 points per 100 possessions when he was on the bench. Now the Thunder can stagger George’s and Westbrook’s minutes in order to have an elite offensive threat on the court at all times.

Last season, George’s 1.01 points per pick-and-roll possession ranked in the 92.3 percentile and his 0.94 points per isolation possession ranked in the 72.5 percentile.

When they hit the court together, George (39% 3PT) could space the floor in ways Oldapio never could.

Per NBA.com, Westbrook led the league in assists per game off drives. Imagine, adding an upgrade like George into that equation? His ability to knock down 45.3 percent of his midrange jumpers will make teams thing twice about crowding the paint on Westbrook drives in the half court.

Those drive and kicks are going to be even more deadly with George flanking Westbrook.

On the defensive end, George would make a difference too. We all know Westbrook struggles on that side of the ball. He likes to ball watch or stand on the perimeter waiting for the opportunity to start a fastbreak. With George in the fold, along with Andre Roberson (who Presti also re-signed this summer), the Thunder now possesses arguably the best duo of perimeter defenders in the NBA.

In addition to landing George and re-signing Roberson, Presti also managed to land Patrick Patterson, who is a versatile defender that can spread the floor.

With defenders all over the floor, and Steven Adams protecting the rim, the Oklahoma City Thunder look quite respectable in a potential matchup against the mighty Golden State Warriors.

Sam Presti has had one heck of a summer. Even though he’ll be paying that luxury tax, he’s built a legit top 10 offensive and defensive team this summer.

Russell Westbrook may still wait until next summer before deciding whether or not to sign the super max extension that he was offered and Paul George may still consider joining his hometown Lakers next summer, but Presti shouldn’t worry about that.

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This summer, he’s proven that the Oklahoma City Thunder is desperate for a championship and he is hell bent in pursuing one.