Sam Presti did a long interview with The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City and covered a lot of ground without saying a whole lot. You know, the Presti way. But he was asked about his feelings on all the criticism surrounding Russell Westbrook during the playoffs.
You’re only human if you know it’s there. Once you get to this point in the year, there’s only a couple teams or a couple series playing and that’s part of it. One thing we really learned about Russell through that process, or one thing that was confirmed, he’s an incredibly resilient person. … I think the other thing we learned is he’s really only focused on the things that he can control. … I think he deserves a lot of respect as a second-team all-NBA player, a 22-year-old point guard in the Western Conference Finals, in being self-critical.
Presti was also asked when he sees his young roster maybe peaking. I love this answer, especially the last part.
“That’s a great question and I wish I could tell you there was a way for us to predict that. There really isn’t. One thing we know is this, the experiences that we’re accumulating over time are really helping our players in the area of recognition, recognizing the things that high-performing teams do on a consistent basis. When you have those players, I don’t necessarily think their improvement is a result of time elapsed, but it’s actually what’s been accumulated, what’s been experienced within that time.”
And the team experienced a whole heck of a lot these past two seasons. Like I said in my recap of the season, maybe the biggest acquisition this team can make over the summer is digesting everything that happened in this wonderful postseason run and understanding what needs to change. You can’t trade for experience and maturity. Like Presti said, you’ve got to make it on your own.