OKC Thunder set to have quite the basketball hall of fame lineage

Sam Presti was set to be in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Saturday as a new class of legends is enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

The 2023 class includes French guard Tony Parker, a four-time NBA champion with the Spurs and a four-time All-NBA selection.

San Antonio selected Parker with the 28th pick in the 2001 draft. Presti, then a 22-year-old intern with the Spurs, watched hours of tape on Parker leading up to the draft.

“Once we moved through the few Tony tapes we had, getting others was a challenge,” Presti recently told The Athletic. “So, I started something like a black market, trading for them overseas.

“I’d send all kinds of Spurs gear and other stuff — like Spurs key chains — to French clubs and ask for their game tapes. A lot of them were black and white. But more and more Tony tapes kept coming in, and we watched mountains of them.”

Parker’s first pre-draft workout for the Spurs was a dud.

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“It was the equivalent of introducing your girlfriend to your parents and they didn’t like her,” Presti said.

But Parker crushed his second workout, and he kept shining in the silver and black for the next 17 years. A home run pick for the Spurs, due in part to Presti’s keen scouting.

Now, 21 years later, Presti will watch Parker get inducted into the hall of fame, and it won’t be long before Presti returns to Springfield to watch former Thunder players be enshrined in the hall.

Since the Thunder’s inception in 2008, the number of future hall of famers to suit up for OKC is staggering.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden — all drafted by Presti in consecutive years from 2007-09 — are locks to make the hall. All three, of course, are league MVPs.

Then there’s Carmelo Anthony, who played for the Thunder in the 2017-18 season. Anthony’s best days were in Denver and New York, but a player of Anthony’s stature spending a year in OKC was still surreal for a young fan base.

Paul George, also on that 2017-18 team and the one after, is another likely hall of famer. According to Basketball Reference’s estimator, George has a 94% chance to make the hall of fame — the 10th-strongest case among all active players.

And Chris Paul, of course, will be a first-ballot hall of famer. The Point God resurrected his career with the Thunder in the 2019-20 season.

Al Horford, who also spent a year in OKC, has an outside 12% chance to make the hall, according to Basketball Reference. Remember, though, that it’s a basketball hall of fame and not just an NBA hall of fame. In addition to being a five-time All-Star, Horford was a two-time national champion at Florida.

And then there’s the current crop of Thunder players. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would have to keep up this level of play for another decade plus, but the 25-year-old guard already has a first-team All-NBA line on his resume. Meanwhile, the futures of Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren are bright.

Suffice to say, there are more summers in Springfield to come for Presti.

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC Thunder set to have quite the basketball hall of fame lineage

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