By Addam Francisco
The season opener was exactly what ESPN thought it would be, a shootout. This matchup against the San Antonio Spurs looked attractive from the start, San Antonio coming off a great off-season, probably the best in the NBA picking up LaMarcus Aldridge and David West. Those players came into this game with a lot of energy hitting shots left and right, but a great second half by Oklahoma City helped them push past the Spurs 112-106.
Along with a new era of coaching under Billy Donovan, it's also a new era for the players as well. There's a new big three in Oklahoma City, featuring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Enes Kanter. Yes, this was just the first game of the season, but dating back to last seasons experience, the preseason, and this first game it's clear who Oklahoma City's big three is.
Even though KD didn't have the game everyone expected him to have, in his first game back on the court following an injury that caused him to miss the majority of last season, it's still obvious that he's the man. Scoring 22 points and collecting six rebounds off 6-of-19 shooting, he shows that he can still be an elite player even when he has an off game. It'll be special to see what his stat line is when he shoots just 50 percent from the field. This is something that Oklahoma City is looking forward to seeing and most likely will.
There's a lot of good to say about Russell Westbrook period, but especially after his 2015-2016 season debut, scoring 33 points, and assisting 10 times off of 12-of-23 shooting. Once again, these numbers are MVP numbers for Russell. His attack seems to be a bit different this year; even though he's still an attack first type of point guard by nature, theres clearly been a lot of maturity displayed, he waits longer for lanes to open up, and he's really incorporated his post up skills to his game.
15 points and 16 rebounds warrants a spot in the big three. Those big numbers came from the back-up center. Coming off the bench, and only playing 24 minutes, this is something that fans and media need to take notice of if they already haven't. Not to mention the fact that honestly David West gave Kanter a hard time in the post, making it very difficult for Enes to catch the ball and even more difficult to score. That 15 and 16 came off of offensive rebounds (which he had six of) and put-backs. Imagine what this guy can can do when he's allowed to post up like everyone knows he can. Also, don't ignore the fact that he's only one season removed from his rookie contract and just turned 23.
Along with these three players, don't forget about Serge Ibaka, Dion Waiters, and Anthony Morrow. Combining for 26 points a piece, and 16 points of those points coming off the bench. As some of the better NBA analyst have already mentioned, the Thunder have the deepest team in the league this year. Definitely deeper than the team they had in 2012 that went to the Finals. After the first game of the season, many will be excited to see what the rest of the season has to offer for this team.