Sam Presti | Executive Vice President and General Manager
Sam Presti enters his 16th 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, making him the second-youngest person to ever hold the position in NBA history and today Presti stands as the third-most tenured head of basketball operations in the NBA.
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. Presti and Bennett represent the second-longest pairing for a Governor of an NBA team and head of basketball operations.
Presti led the Thunder to second-best record in the NBA for more than a decade stretch that spanned from 2009 through 2020. After advancing to the 2020 Playoffs, the Thunder became one of just three teams (Boston and San Antonio) to reach the postseason 10 times during the prior 11 seasons. Under Presti’s guidance, the Thunder has captured five Northwest Division Championships and reached the Conference Finals four times, including the team’s trip to the NBA Finals in 2012.The 2011-12 Thunder team became the youngest team in league history to reach the NBA Finals. From 2009-2019, the Thunder averaged the second-best net rating (+4.6) and had the third-most seasons with a net rating of +6.0 or more behind only San Antonio and Golden State.
Continuing to reposition the franchise after a decade-plus of high performance, prior to the start of the 2020-21 season Presti and the Thunder executed trades 11 trades with 15 different teams, marking the most activity for a team in a single offseason since the advent of the NBA Draft Lottery in 1985. Entering the 2022-23 season Presti and the Thunder have amassed a total of 15 first-round and 14 second-round picks to accompany three first round pick swaps through the 2029 NBA Draft.
Throughout his tenure, Presti has led with a method of consistent philosophies and values while using diverse roster building techniques to sustain several cycles of the Thunder. This past summer was highlighted by signing Luguentz Dort to a multi-year contract extension and drafting Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft. This occurred just one year removed from signing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to a multi-year contract extension.
Following the 2018-19 season, Presti began repositioning and replenishing the franchise with a series of moves, acquiring Chris Paul, Gilgeous Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, eight first round draft picks and four pick swaps in separate deals involving Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Jerami Grant. In the George deal alone, the Thunder acquired five first round picks, a record for first round picks to come back in a single trade. This new version of the Thunder again made the playoffs in 2019, earning the fifth seed in the Western Conference as Presti finished second in Executive of the Year voting.
Throughout 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. More recently, Josh Giddy was named the NBA’s rookie of the month on four occasions this past season after being selected 6th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft.
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 10 players Presti and his front office have either drafted or traded for who have All-Star appearances (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Victor Oladipo, Sabonis, George, Anthony, Paul and Horford and Kemba Walker). During Presti’s tenure, the Thunder also has the most First and Second Team All-NBA appearances of any team in the NBA (17).
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 as the 2009-10 Thunder team became the youngest team in NBA history to qualify for postseason play. Presti was named NBA Executive of the Year by Sporting News at the conclusion of the season.
During his tenure in OKC, Presti has hired three head coaches. Scott Brooks (2011) and Billy Donovan (2020) both earned Coach of the Year honors during their time with the Thunder, and Mark Daigneault, who was hired prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, is the first person in league history to be promoted from the head coach of the organization’s G-League head coach to the franchise’s NBA head coach role.
Since 2010, the Thunder, along with the Spurs, have produced the most front office members who have become general managers, as Rich Cho, Rob Hennigan, Michael Winger and Troy Weaver were all hired from the Thunder into the role.
After 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 more than 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.
Consistent with his organizational commitment to community involvement, Presti has been equally supportive of several worthy causes in his personal life.
Recently, Presti was elected as a member of the Executive Committee at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum after previously serving on the Board of Trustees. While on the Board, Presti helped lead the Memorial’s Oklahoma Standard campaign, a movement built on the foundation of resilience, compassion, consistent acts of honor, service and kindness.
In June of 2019, the Presti family became significant benefactors to the Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine, as their contributions provided 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 Presti’s philanthropy also contributed to a significant construction project in the east lobby of The Children’s Center. Renamed the “Presti Clubhouse”, the east lobby now provides a nurturing and interactive space for children and their parents.
During July 2020, Presti and his high school teammate, friend and CAA Sports executive Mike Johnson launched the Thunder Fellows Program, a partnership between the Thunder and CAA Sports intended to unlock new opportunities in sports, technology and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area. Located in the Historic Greenwood District of Tulsa, the curriculum offered through the Thunder Fellows Program aims to close these gaps and increase the odds of high school and college completion through mentorship, skill development, and the provision of practical experience. Students are exposed to a variety of disciplines within Thunder basketball operations, where they will work on real-world projects for the organization.
In recent years, Presti led a fundraising initiative to establish a scholarship in honor of Mike Brown at his alma mater, Emerson College. The scholarship will support incoming students from historically underserved and underrepresented backgrounds with financial need.
Since 2011 Presti has impacted the lives of over 500 students who have gone 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. Starting in 2019, Presti incorporated UPenn and their standard bearing resilience and optimism training for the students who are part of the Forward Thinking group.
Through the years, Presti has been 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.
During September of 2021 Oklahoma City University announced the induction of Presti into the Oklahoma Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor which recognizes business and community leaders who have made significant contributions to the growth and development of Oklahoma. Financial support for the Hall of Honor provides scholarships for students at OCU’s Meinders School of Business.
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 and twin daughters, Millie and Elise. Shannon serves as the Teen Leadership Initiatives Coordinator for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.
Rob Hennigan | Vice President of Basketball Operations
Rob Hennigan begins his third season as Vice President of Basketball Operations and his 10th season overall with the Thunder organization. He worked as the General Manager for the Orlando Magic for five seasons before returning to Oklahoma City in 2017 to serve as the Vice President of Insight & Foresight. He works closely with key functions within the organization, including player personnel, strategic planning, data science & solutions and information management and counsel.
Hennigan previously worked in the Thunder front office from 2008-12 as the team’s Assistant General Manager/Player Personnel. He helped lead a turnaround that saw Oklahoma City go from a 23- win team in 2008-09 season, to a spot in the NBA Finals in 2012. Prior to joining the Thunder, Hennigan spent four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, where he began as an intern in 2004-05 season before rising in the ranks to be named Director of Basketball Operations in September of 2007. In his time in San Antonio, the team won NBA Championships in 2005 and 2007.
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 and an Academic All-American as a senior. He remains Emerson’s all-time leading scorer.
Hennigan and his wife, Marissa, are the parents of two sons, Jameson and Jack.
Will Dawkins | Vice President of Basketball Operations
Will Dawkins enters his third season as Vice President of Basketball Operations and his 15th year with the Thunder organization. In his current role, Dawkins assists in a variety of functions, including roster and staff development, strategic planning, and the handling of personnel matters, including player evaluation and acquisitions.
Dawkins most recently spent three seasons as the team’s Vice President of Identification & Intelligence, where he was responsible for overseeing the professional and amateur evaluation departments, both domestically and internationally. In his time with the Thunder, Dawkins has also held the role of front office intern, assistant video coordinator, scouting coordinator and
Director of College Player Personnel, a position he held for five seasons.
A graduate of Emerson College, Dawkins holds 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. The Springfield, Mass. native led the High School of Commerce to the 2004 Division I State Championship, while earning the honor of Western Massachusetts Player of the Year and in 2015, he was inducted into the Springfield Massachusetts Sports Hall of Fame.
Dawkins, his wife, Tara and their children Trey, Journee and Rylee currently reside in Edmond, Okla.