As the clock inched past midnight Thursday, the last place Thunder general manager Sam Presti wanted to be was precisely where he was at that particular moment: In front of reporters, answering questions. For the better part of two months, these media folk who surrounded Presti essentially told him what to think and whom to pick for that night’s NBA Draft. Like all good general managers, Presti wisely ignored what was hashed and rehashed. "We can’t pay attention to that,” Presti said of rumor, innuendo and flat-out falsities that arise at the end of each spring. "We have to focus on what we’re doing.” Presti picked Arizona State shooting guard James Harden with the No. 3 pick; traded up one spot to get Ohio State center B.J. Mullens, who was picked No. 24 by Dallas; and acquired the rights at No. 54 to UAB shooting guard Robert Vaden from Charlotte for cash considerations. On the yawn scale of 1 to 10, this might register around 6 or 7, but Presti addressed the Thunder’s two biggest needs — a shooter and a post player. There was no spike in Thunder season-ticket sales Friday morning, but that doesn’t mean the team didn’t get better Thursday night. There was far more substance than flash with whom the Thunder selected, which helps define the "Presti Way” a little more each day. Presti knows what he wants and how to get it. Most people strive to be that way, but so few are. "What it boils down to is we have to make decisions that are not affected or impacted by what might be the most exciting or ‘grand-slam’ thing,” Presti explained. "We have to make decisions based on our core values and what we think is important.” Fans can dive head-first into reported rumors gathered by the folks at HoopsHype.com, but you get the distinct impression Presti doesn’t wade into those waters. "If you understand how much of what’s being reported about your team and how much of that is actually bogus, then you know not to listen to stuff about other people’s teams,” Presti said. "Because you know nine out of every 10 things they’re saying is completely wrong about us, we’re not going to listen. "It’d be easy for me to go on a diatribe about rumors and speculation and those things, but realistically that’s part of the business we’re in. In this time of the year, there’s going to be stuff like that out there that’s going to be uncontrollable.” The Thunder still has a ways to go to become a playoff team, but that distance keeps getting shorter. Presti referred to this week’s draft as simply "one more step” toward becoming a better team. More decisions must come from Presti before the home team plays its first postseason game. More players must be found and harvested. Presti will never share his entire thought process publicly. He will not divulge what could have happened, what should have happened or what nearly happened leading up to Thursday’s draft. He will not discuss the details of how he tried to acquire Blake Griffin, or why he passed on Ricky Rubio. Presti insists the draft process is not nearly as complicated as people make it out to be. "We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Presti said. "We’re just trying to do the best we can. You can’t control how people interpret how you’re working. You’ve just got to do your job.” The 32-year-old Presti was the first Rhodes Scholar finalist in the history of Emerson College in Boston. I’m not exactly sure how Rhodes Scholars are determined, but I’m thinking the judges blew it by not picking Presti and shipping him off to Oxford. Here’s one comment I’ll bet Presti has never heard from any of his teachers, or from his employers: "Hey, Sam. I don’t think you thought this thing all the way through. I see some holes here.” John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.