Presti Surprises All

After trading away James Harden over a year ago, NBA fans around the world were very angry at the Oklahoma City Thunder organization for not treating their players well. They were willing to trade away Harden instead of offer him more money. And that’s exactly what they did.

In October 2012, the Thunder traded, James Harden, to the Houston Rockets for guard Kevin Martin, rookie guard Jeremy Lamb, and a 1st round draft pick in 2013. They drafted, Pittsburgh center, Steven Adams and analysts believed that the Thunder lost that trade.

Kevin Martin only spent one year in Oklahoma City. Thunder lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies in five games. Martin was a free agent then, and signed a deal with Minnesota Timberwolves, leaving only Lamb and Adams for the Thunder in that 2012 trade.

The organization led by GM Sam Presti, has proven critics wrong (so far) as the Thunder have the best record in the Western Conference in their first year without Martin, with a record of 41-12. They have played more than half of those games without their all-star point guard, Russell Westbrook.

We’ll see what the Thunder do in the postseason, but they proved people wrong by showing they don’t need three superstars on their team to be successful. The departure of all-star James Harden sprouted the emergence of shot-blocking Serge Ibaka. While the injury to Westbrook last year in the playoffs helped the team more than ever, as it gave playoff experience to backup point guard Reggie Jackson.

Jackson has even more experience now, as Westbrook got reinjured this year as well. There is also a player they didn’t trade away named Kevin Durant, so there’s that. But the Thunder’s supporting cast is the main reason for their record right now, as they have a very efficient bench.

Here are some predictions from SM West students about how they think the NBA season will end in June.

Brandon Ortega: Miami Heat over Indiana Pacers (Eastern Conference finals), Oklahoma City Thunder over Los Angeles Clippers (Western Conference finals), Miami Heat over Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA Finals)

Emil Castillo: Indiana Pacers over Miami Heat (ECF), Portland Trail Blazers over Oklahoma City Thunder (WCF), Indiana Pacers over Portland Trail Blazers (Finals)