Sam Presti enters his 14th season with the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise after being named the 11th General Manager in club history on June 7, 2007 at 29 years old. A year into his tenure with the Thunder, Presti was promoted to Executive Vice President and General Manager by Professional Basketball Club Chairman, Clayton I. Bennett. The two represent the fifth-longest pairing for a Governor of an NBA team and head of basketball operations.
During his 13-plus seasons with the Thunder, Presti has worked diligently to assemble the building blocks for long-term success both on and off the court. Dating back to the start of the 2009-10 season, Presti and his staff have watched the Thunder amass the second-best record in the NBA during this span (behind only San Antonio).
When hired to oversee the Thunder’s basketball operations in 2007, Presti became the second-youngest general manager in NBA history. Presti remains the seventh youngest and is also the seventh-most tenured head of basketball operations in the NBA. By advancing to the 2020 Playoffs, the Thunder became one of just two teams (San Antonio) to reach the postseason 10 times in the past 11 seasons. Under Presti’s guidance, the Thunder has captured five Northwest Division Championships and reached the Conference Finals on four occasions, including the team’s trip to the NBA Finals in 2012. Over that 10-year stretch, the Thunder has averaged the second-best net rating (+4.6) and had the third-most seasons with a net rating of +6.0 or more behind San Antonio and Golden State.
Throughout his tenure, Presti has led with a method that has consistent philosophies and values but has used diverse roster building techniques to sustain several cycles of the Thunder.
In the summer of 2019, Presti repositioned the franchise by acquiring Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Chris Paul along with a record number of draft selections as the Thunder obtained eight first-round draft picks for trades involving Paul George, Jerami Grant and Russell Westbrook.
During his time leading the Thunder’s basketball operations efforts, Presti and his staff have enjoyed success with respect to the NBA Draft, beginning with the 2007 selection of Kevin Durant with the second overall pick. Presti went on to draft Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka in 2008 with the fourth and 24th selections, before taking James Harden with the third overall pick in 2009. The selections of Durant, Westbrook and Harden marked the only time in NBA history where future MVPs were selected by the same GM in three consecutive drafts. Presti and his staff have also been able to pick key contributors throughout the draft as evident by selecting Reggie Jackson 24th in 2011, Steven Adams 12th and Andre Roberson 26th in 2013 and Domantas Sabonis 11th in 2016.
After acquiring six-time All-Star Paul George in a landmark trade from the Indiana Pacers in June of 2017, George then signed a multi-year deal with the Thunder in the summer of 2018. This occurred the offseason after the Thunder signed Westbrook in September of 2017 to his third multi-year contract extension with the team. George and Westbrook are two of the seven players Presti and his front office have either drafted or traded for who have All-Star appearances (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Victor Oladipo, George, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul). During Presti’s tenure, the Thunder also has the most First and Second Team All-NBA appearances of any team in the NBA.
With Presti at the helm, the Thunder advanced to the postseason five straight years (2010-14) and at the conclusion 2012-13 season, Oklahoma City became just the second team in NBA history (Boston Celtics; 1955-60) to increase its winning percentage for five consecutive seasons while maintaining a winning percentage of .700 or better in two of those seasons.
Dating back to the 2011-12 season, the Thunder became Western Conference Champions on the heels of the 2010-11 season in which the Thunder became the youngest team in the prior quarter century to reach the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
During the 2009-10 season, Oklahoma City experienced one of the largest turnarounds in NBA history. A year after winning 23 games, the Thunder concluded the 2009-10 season with a 50-32 record (.610) and captured the franchise’s first playoff berth in Oklahoma City. The 27-win improvement was tied for the eighth-largest improvement in NBA history. Presti was named NBA Executive of the Year by Sporting News at the conclusion of the season.
Since moving to Oklahoma City in July of 2008, Presti has stressed the importance of community involvement for both Thunder players and staff. Under his leadership, Thunder players have made nearly 2,500 community appearances in and around Oklahoma City. Presti has also made it policy for every new player and staff member to tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum soon after joining the organization. Presti has also fostered staff wellness through the Thunder’s long-standing work with the University of Pennsylvania, who is the leader in the areas of resilience and optimism training.
At the request of former NBA Commissioner David Stern and then Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, Presti was named to the league’s first-ever Competition Committee in May of 2012. During his term, which concluded prior to the 2018-19 season, Presti was a part of the committee that enacted several rule changes, such as concussion protocol, a package of rules to increase game flow, player rest policies, anti-flopping rules, deliberate away-from-the-play fouls, modifications to playoff seeding, qualification and tie-breakers, and adjustments to the NBA Finals scheduling format. Additionally, Presti was asked to serve on the NBA’s Instant Replay Committee in 2009, which helped to lay the groundwork for rules changes that the Competition Committee would later make regarding instant replay expansion and the expanded use of the replay center. Presti is currently part of the General Manager Sub-Committee which was designed to help identify opportunities to enhance the future of the NBA.
Prior to joining the Thunder, Presti held a variety of roles with the San Antonio Spurs. After starting in 2000 as a video intern for Gregg Popovich, Presti moved up through the front office ranks under the leadership of R.C. Buford before being elevated to the position of Vice President and Assistant General Manager. As a member of the Spurs, Presti was part of NBA Championship teams in 2003, 2005 and 2007, as well as five division titles.
Presti earned his bachelor’s degree in 2000 in communications, politics and law with a minor in psychology from Emerson College in Boston, where he was the first Rhodes Scholar nominee in school history. The Concord, Mass. native served as team captain of the Emerson College basketball team during both his junior and senior seasons. In addition, Presti earned All-Academic honors two times and was twice selected to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference All-Tournament team.
He was honored with the Emerson College Young Alumnus Award in 2005. Presti has also completed Harvard University’s Continuing Education program on leadership and decision-making.
Presti currently resides on the executive board of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and served as chairman of the Memorial’s Oklahoma Standard campaign, a movement built on the foundation of resilience, compassion, consistent acts of honor, service and kindness.
Consistent with his organizational commitment to community involvement, Presti has been equally supportive of several worthy causes in his personal life.
This past June, the Presti family made a donation to the Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine that will provide renovations and upgrades to two procedure rooms at the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders for Children and the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at The Children’s Hospital. The donation will also contribute to a significant construction project in the east lobby of The Children’s Center that will provide a “nurturing and interactive space” for children and their parents.
Since 2011 Presti has impacted the lives of more than 480 students through his Forward Thinking Leadership Development Program. In partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools, the program aims to help the next generation of youth in the local community. Beginning in the 2019 school year, Presti will incorporate UPenn and their standard bearing resilience and optimism training for the students who are part of the Forward Thinking group.
Presti is actively involved with PeacePlayers International (PPI), a global outreach program focused on bringing children and communities together through the game of basketball. In 2018, Presti brought PPI together with the Oklahoma City Police Athletic League and made a significant donation to help the two parties develop programs together to foster positive relations with youth and law enforcement.
He also serves on the Board of Directors of Shooting Touch, an organization that grants graduating college seniors the opportunity to travel the world and use the platform of basketball to help foster education and influence positive social change in third world global communities. Presti and his family are also active with the Oklahoma City Humane Society.
In 2016 Presti was awarded the Humanitarian Award from the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice thanks to his work in the area of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. He was bestowed the honor of the 2016 Oklahoman of the Year by Oklahoma Magazine. Presti was recognized as Oklahoma City University’s 2012-13 recipient of the Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award for Sports Excellence and he also won the Oklahoma March of Dimes Sports Headliner Special Award for 2013.
A skilled drummer, Presti has produced three music CDs with all proceeds benefiting the Extra Ordinary Needs Fund at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Also, Presti established the Keenan Smith-Anthony Halls Scholarship Fund at his former high school, Concord-Carlisle, to assist underserved students with their college tuition.
Presti and his wife, Shannon, have a son, Nicholas Rubin and twin daughters, Millie and Elise. Shannon continues to serve as the Director of Teen Leadership Initiatives for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.
Rob Hennigan | Vice President of Basketball Operations
Rob Hennigan enters his first season as Vice President of Basketball Operations after serving three seasons as Vice President of Insight & Foresight during his second stint with the organization. He rejoined the Thunder front office in the 2017-18 after spending five seasons as the General Manager of the Orlando Magic. In his current role with the Thunder, Hennigan oversees key functions that include strategic planning, data science & solutions and information management and counsel.
During Hennigan’s previous tenure as the team’s Assistant General Manager/Player Personnel (2008-2012), he helped lead a turnaround that saw Oklahoma City go from a 23-win team in 2008-09 to a spot in the NBA Finals in 2012.
Prior to joining the Thunder, Hennigan spent four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. He was named Director of Basketball Operations in September of 2007 after starting with the organization as an intern during the 2004-05 season. The Spurs won the NBA World Championship in 2004-05 and 2006-07.
A native of Worcester, Mass., Hennigan graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College in 2004. He was named a Division III All-American, an Academic All-American as a senior and at the conclusion of his collegiate career, Hennigan finished as Emerson’s all-time leading scorer.
Hennigan and his wife, Marissa, are the parents of a son, Jameson.
Will Dawkins | Vice President of Basketball Operations
Will Dawkins is set to begin his 13th year with the Thunder organization and first as the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations. During Dawkins' tenure, he has served in varying capacities including front office intern, assistant video coordinator, scouting coordinator, five seasons as the team’s Director of College Player Personnel and three seasons as Vice President of Identification & Intelligence.
A native of Springfield, Mass. Dawkins led the High School of Commerce to the 2004 Division I State Championship, while earning the honor of Western Massachusetts Player of the Year. He went on to graduate from Emerson College with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. While at Emerson he served as captain of the men’s basketball team and became a two-time Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar All American. In 2015 he was inducted into the Springfield Massachusetts Sports Hall of Fame.
Dawkins, his wife, Tara and their children Trey and Journee currently reside in Edmond.