Sam Presti will forever be remembered for hitting grand slams by drafting Kevin Durant,James Harden,and Russell Westbrook. A lot of what ifs on how many championships they could have won together until Sam Presti decided to short change James Harden in free-agency so he signed with the Houston Rockets. I’ve been watching young players Aleksej Pokusevski,Lu Dort, and Josh Giddey and I am very impressed with their potential. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander I’ve always been aware of since his short-stint on the Clippers, everyone failed to realize just how much of an impact he had on that team and how his all-around skillset gave the Warriors fits in a series which shockingly went 6 games in which if not for Kevin Durant scoring 48 points they could’ve pulled off a historic upset against a heavily favored Warriors team.
Former coach of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander John Calipari always spoke highly of Shai and how much of a quick learner he was at Kentucky for him, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Shai has to be the best all-around point guard in the NBA at the moment. Lu Dort was gifted a 5-year $87 million dollar contract by the Oklahoma City Thunder and it shows that Sam Presti is looking to keep a core of Shai,Giddey,Dort,and Holmgren together for the next few years in hopes of possibly competing for a championship by 2025 which is not too far off. Chet Holmgren was just drafted out of Gonzaga and has all-star written all over him, I don’t even believe his floor is a role player. At the very least he’ll end being a 4th scoring option which is not bad at all, I predict he will be capable of being the first option on a championship team.
Holmgren will need a year of seasoning due to his frail frame but adding 15-20 pounds might be all he needs. He weighs 190 pounds and should hope to get to about 215-220 at some point so he can play more center but he has the makings of a future two-way force in the NBA. He’s mobile defensively and seems like he’ll be more than capable of defending the post and be able to recover to contest shots at the 3-point line. Some say he’s Kevin Durant in slowmotion and I agree, Kevin Knox always received Kevin Durant comparisons but he is not as good with the ball in his hands like Chet and has never been known to be a shooter. The Thunder will take a year or two before they are able to make any serious but if Holmgren is able to make a big leap by year 3 the Thunder will be ready to contend.
As far as Josh Giddey goes it almost feels like you are watching soccer with the way Josh pushes the ball on fast-breaks. You get shades of former Utah Jazz legend Pistol Pete Maravich when Giddey throws a behind the back pass, he’s got the long hair just like Pete Maravich and another player you can compare Giddey’s game to would be Steve Nash. The one weakness about Giddey’s game is his shooting, he had an injury rattled rookie season but you could see the strides he was making offensively as the season went on. He can get you 8-10 rebounds a night along with a 8-10 assists and due to his unselfish mindset won’t hold Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back from continuing to ascend into one of the top 5 point guards in the NBA. Giddey failed to win Rookie of the Year but 12 ppg 7 rpg and 6 apg is nothing to scoff at and he only shot 26 percent from 3 point range but let’s remember the kid is only 19 years old.
Sam Presti is quietly building a winner and most NBA fans don’t see it coming. I haven’t mentioned Darius Bazley who was drafted by Sam Presti 2-3 years ago but that’s just because I am beginning to believe he won’t ever become a star at the NBA level even though he has all the potenail to. Aleksej Pokusevski also has untapped potential and we saw what he was capable of once head coach Mark Daigneault put him in the starting lineup this past season, it seemed like was scoring in double figures every start but we shall see how his role will change with the arrival of Chet Holmgren. For Sam Presti’s rebuilding experiment to be a success 2 of his young players will need to become superstars and I believe Shai and Holmgren will be able to be future top 15 players in the NBA. I am on the fence about Josh Giddey but the sky is the limit for him as well, the Thunder really have something special brewing and I can’t wait to witness their rise to the top over the next few years.