The spotlight has shone on Thunder All-Star small forward Kevin Durant the entire offseason, for everything from becoming the youngest NBA scoring champ, to being MVP on the gold-medal-winning Team USA at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, to being this year's projected league MVP, to leading the Thunder to new heights in the postseason.
But who on the Thunder roster is Durant excited about? Which teammate does he believe might surprise people?
His answer was shooting guard Daequan Cook, who was acquired from Miami last June along with the No. 18 draft choice in a salary dump move by the Heat in exchange for the 32nd pick.
"People kind of forgot about him," Durant said of the 23-year-old Cook. "I think he's ready. Preseason, he's shown flashes. He'd stay in the game 12-13 minutes and put up 14-16 points. That's what we're going to need coming off the bench on offense. On defense, he brings it, too. People forgot about him, I think during the season they're going to know who he is."
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Cook "brings a tremendous shot to our team. He has the ability to make 3s and make them in bunches. It remains to be seen how much playing time he will get. We have a good team with a lot of good pieces. We're deep in a lot of positions, so guys that don't play, it's not because they can't play. There's only so many minutes to go around. Daequan brings something to our team that we like. He can spread the floor and make shots."
A former NBA point guard, Brooks has an appreciation for opening night, both as a player and coach.
"I love opening night," Brooks said. "As a player, you're on a team. You've got a job. You're playing the game you loved as a kid. But as a coach, it's a great opportunity for us to go out there and get better every day."
Brooks obviously wants his team excited to play Chicago tonight at 7 inside Oklahoma City Arena, but not overly excited.
"You're always worried about if they get too fired up, and I thought that was the case in the playoffs (last year against the Lakers)," Brooks said. "I don't blame them. I was the same way and I'm sure we're all going to feel that way (tonight). It's always special the first game."
SOME CALM FOR KEVIN
In an odd way, the 82-game regular season might have a stabilizing influence for Durant, who had one crazy summer.
"Now it'll just be focusing on one thing. It should be pretty easy for me," Durant said. "Summer was going country to country, appearance to appearance. Now it'll be going to practice, then go to games, then go home. It's going to be pretty fun and pretty cool for me. I've been looking forward to the season ever since it ended last year."
Did Durant ever feel overwhelmed this summer with such a heavy schedule?
"Not at all," Durant said. "I'm not a guy that gets overwhelmed, you know. Everything basically has been like a dream, but now that the season's here, all that stuff is out the window. I've got to come in and work hard every day."