No matter how many times Thunder general manager Sam Presti or coach Scott Brooks or Kevin Durant or Jeff Green would refute the label, fans and media types would keep it going. The Thunder’s core consists of Durant, Green and Russell Westbrook. Before the 2009 NBA Draft, that description seemed largely accurate. But after seeing what the Thunder came away with Thursday night — and combining those additions with the current cast — you can start to see how the pieces are coming together. Presti has acquired 10 players through the draft over the last three drafts and another two cogs in free agency. All 12 could be a part of Oklahoma City’s long-term plan. Some will stay longer than others. But there are now 12 players in Presti’s pipeline. "Each time we make a selection, we want it to be consistent with the vision of the team. And we feel like we’ve been able to do that,” Presti said. "But as we add pieces to the group, our hope is that they grow together.” The Thunder is still identifying which players will fit best with Durant, Green and Westbrook, who aren’t the core but are indeed the big three. No. 3 overall pick James Harden, because of his versatility and his ability to be a facilitator, is a great complement and will be around for a while. Fellow draftee B.J. Mullens is a project but one who figures to remain in OKC long term. And you can pencil in Nenad Krstic, D.J. White, Kyle Weaver and international man of mystery Serge Ibaka among the keepers. Veteran free agent acquisitions will help put the puzzle together over the long haul. But by building mainly by acquiring youth through the draft, Presti should now have an easier task of identifying what the Thunder’s needs are going forward. The process does, however, take longer to produce a winner. As somewhat of an example, the San Antonio Spurs went through two similar search and selection processes. The Spurs in 1997 added Tim Duncan to a core that already included David Robinson, Avery Johnson, Sean Elliot, Vinny Del Negro and Will Perdue. It won them the title in 1999. San Antonio had a three-year championship drought before eventually adding Malik Rose, Antonio Daniels, Danny Ferry, Tony Parker and Bruce Bowen to the mix. From there, the Spurs won three of the next five NBA championships from 2003-07, having to make only occasional additions to remain relevant — Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry, Michael Finley, Brent Barry, Fabricio Oberto and Beno Udrih. The Thunder took a big step Thursday with its newest additions. While there is still a long road ahead and much work left to be done, the hardest part is now complete. And the Thunder is now another step closer to that final destination.