Two words are likely to tack on a few more wins to the Thunder’s record this season. Corporate knowledge. It’s a phrase Thunder GM Sam Presti and coach P.J. Carlesimo smuggled from coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and look to develop here in Oklahoma City.
It’s established through years of franchise continuity that allows players, coaches and front office executives to grow and master the workings of the organization. The Spurs achieved it and won three championships in five years by keeping their core — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — intact, along with key coaches and executives. The Thunder is in Year 2 of its corporate knowledge development, and that is expected to bolster this season’s squad as much as the projected sophomore improvement of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. "We’re so much further ahead — even with the (preseason) injuries — of where we were this time last year,” Carlesimo said. "There’s no comparison.” Consistency brings comfort, which lets players perform freely, naturally and more effectively when not over thinking. Nick Collison, Damien Wilkins and Robert Swift knew no such comfort. They were on their fourth coach in four years when Carlesimo took over last season. Carlesimo was the team’s third coach in three years for Chris Wilcox, Earl Watson and Johan Petro. Here’s how non-existent the franchise’s corporate knowledge was: holdover assistant coach Ralph Lewis was forced to run offensive sets from former coach Bob Hill’s offense while coaching Durant and Green in summer league play before their rookie seasons. "Ralph didn’t know what we were going to do, how we were going to do it or anything,” Carlesimo said. But the Thunder’s entire coaching staff is back.