Led by Russell Westbrook's triple-double tear for the ages, the Oklahoma City Thunder fared quite well in their first season without former NBA MVP Kevin Durant, winning 47 games and advancing to the playoffs, though they did get bounced in the opening round.
Nonetheless, the Thunder are well equipped to return to prominence in the Western Conference in 2017-18 after acquiring Paul George. Along with Westbrook and center Steven Adams, Oklahoma City has an elite Big 3 at its disposal that Durant isn't exactly looking forward to battling with the Golden State Warriors.
"But they got Russ and PG and Steven Adams to be their Big 3. I think if they feed off each other, it could be great," Durant told The Athletic's Anthony Slater. "I'm a fan of the game. So I can see if something is going to work or not and I think that's going to be a really, really great pairing. It's going to suck for us and the rest of the league. But as a fan of the game, it's going to be tight to see how they work that thing out."
The West in general has undergone a major transformation in a short period of time. The Houston Rockets landed Chris Paul to play alongside James Harden, the Minnesota Timberwolves made a huge splash to acquire Jimmy Butler, and Paul Millsap signed with the rising Denver Nuggets. That doesn't even take into account the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Clippers, who won't be easy outs themselves.
Golden State won 67 games in 2016-17, and lost just once en route to its second title in three years. Durant realizes it's going to be much more difficult to replicate that level of success in the revamped West, yet he's ready to face that challenge head on.
"It is a new landscape. And I like it. I don't know how it's going to work together, but I can't wait to see it all. It's going to be fun every night," he added. "You're going to see what you're supposed to be seeing, not a bunch of dudes you know aren't good on the court. There's going to be a bunch of talent on the floor, top to bottom."