How did the Thunder look after its first exhibition game? That’s just one of the question we posed to our panel of experts in the NBA roundtable. Here’s what they had to say about that and more. 1. First impressions of the Thunder's debut Wednesday night in its preseason game against Minnesota? Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry: They're a scrappy bunch with a lot of young talent. But it's going to take some time for that talent to develop and learn not only how to play in this league and also how to play together. There are more offensive threats on the roster than the Thunder are given credit for. Kevin Durant will undoubtedly be the leading scorer on most nights. But as Damien Wilkins showed Wednesday, this team has ample scorers who are capable of picking up the slack when Durant's shots aren't falling. I wouldn't be surprised if Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison, Desmond Mason and Joe Smith each have moments throughout the season where they go off for 25 to 30 points and steal the headlines. Sports Editor Mike Sherman: I've been signing the start-Russell-Westbrook chorus since watching him on streaming video in the Orlando Summer League (yes, we were desperate for a glimpse of an OKC NBA team) and nothing I saw Wednesday night changed my mind. The Thunder looked better when he was in the lineup. I know it's one game, but I'm betting on it being a trend. Earl Watson is a solid backup point guard, and there's going to be opportunities for them to play together. But if this team is building or rebuilding, Westbrook is the way to go. I also thought Johan Petro was solid in the minutes he played at center and Nick Collison was impressive for all the ways he contributes. Columnist Jenni Carlson: Granted, it was only one game and it was a game against the Timberwolves, but holding a team to 37 percent shooting and forcing 25 turnovers are good signs for the Thunder. This is a team that lacked defensive intensity last year. Sam Presti and Co. went out in the offseason and got guys who'd play defense. Wednesday, they did. Columnist Berry Tramel: I'm at a little disadvantage, since I'm already in Dallas, and for some reason, the Dallas TV market had no desire to show an OKC-Minnesota exhibition game. But reading the reports and studying the box score, what jumps out at me is this: Chris Wilcox will be the Thunder's most stable player. Kevin Durant will be the star, but Wilcox will be a standard you can count on. 2. What is the best solution for the Thunder at center? Carlson: Johan Petro seems the best option of the truly big bigs right now. Of course, he was the only option in the first exhibition game as neither of the other 7-footers were even in uniform. Is he ready to be a full-time, hold-down-the-middle guy, though? I doubt it. I suspect there's going to have to be some sharing of duties between Petro and Nick Collison at center. Mayberry: Collison to start and Johan Petro as the backup. Both have their limitations but have shown a willingness to compete by playing solid defense and battling on the boards. Sherman: Short-term, Collison. Long-term, though, I wonder how he'll hold up against some of the big centers in the West. It would be better if one of the three 7-footers could play big minutes. Petro was the only one in uniform Wednesday. Tramel: The best solution at center for the Thunder is for Clay Bennett to use his influence with David Stern to get the NBA to begin playing 4-on-4. With the players getting so big and fast, sometimes the court gets too crowded. So let's play 4-on-4, open up the game and the Thunder won't have to worry about the center position. Otherwise, it's going to have to be Nick Collison. 3. Should the Thunder have played its first in-state exhibition in Tulsa instead of Oklahoma City? Tramel: I think playing in Tulsa first is fine. Heck, I would give Tulsa both exhibition games. Here's what I know and everyone else soon will find out. Exhibition games are a scourge on sports. We will come to hate them. They tell us little; all they're good for is wearing out ballplayers who already face an 82-game schedule. And they wear out fans who have committed to 41 home games a year and then are asked to support extra games that hold less meaning than the pickup games at Municipal Gym. If someone wants any exhibition game scheduled for the Ford Center, I say take it. Sherman: Heck yes. The first game in the state should have been in the city that made the move possible and in front of the taxpayers who are footing the bill for the Ford Center as it stands and the changes that are coming. Seems to me it should have been easy to flop the order of the games (the Thunder plays Monday in Tulsa and Tuesday in OKC), but maybe we should ask the team if there was a reason why it couldn't be done. (Thanks for the story idea). Mayberry: Maybe so, but who cares? The key word is exhibition. OKC will have 41 nights of the real thing. This has been the biggest non-issue to date with this franchise. Carlson: As long as the team plays its first game in Oklahoma City, it doesn't matter much to me. And the thing is, this is technically Houston's home exhibition. The fact that the two teams are playing on Oklahoma soil is something of a surprise. Truthfully, Tulsa should have an exhibition game — this will be the state's team, after all — and this just happens to be the one where the team could swing a deal to get there. 4. If you had to buy a single game ticket to just one Thunder home game, which would it be? Sherman: The opener, without question. Here's my wish, and it's not unique to me: Wayman Tisdale performs the national anthem. What a great way to celebrate the birth of Oklahoma City's own franchise. I wasn't able to be at the Ford Center when the Hornets played their first game here in 2005, but I hear it was special. Wayman was part of that. Who cares who they're playing that night — for the record, it's the Bucks. But 20 years from now 50,000 people will swear they were there the night the Thunder played its first game. Carlson: The Hornets game. The Men in Teal return. Should be a fun atmosphere. Oh, and they just happen to have the most exciting player in the game in Chris Paul. In case you missed it, CP3 has only gotten better since he left OKC. Tramel: The Hornets' first appearance is the can't-miss game. Kobe and LeBron and the Celtics and all the marquee stars and teams, they'll be back. But there never again will be the first meeting of OKC's past and present teams. It'll be like Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand, meeting on the streets of New York all those years later, in "The Way We Were." Mayberry: Are you questioning my fanhood? Washington Wizards. 5. What does the return of Greg Oden mean to the Western Conference? Mayberry: For this season, very little. Sure, he'll anchor the middle for years on what is currently an up and coming team. But aside from pushing the Blazers into the playoffs, which means knocking the time bomb Nuggets out, his presence will not greatly alter the West's landscape. Even with him the Blazers figure to be two years away from contending for a title. Sherman: It means the Portland Trailblazers — to quote my friend Berry Tramel — have grown fangs. If Oden is healthy I see Portland getting a lot better. That's probably worse news to teams like the Dallas Mavericks than it is to the Thunder this season. But it means the West stays though. I think teams like Dallas are going to have to work hard to keep from declining and the rise of Portland are going to make that more of a challenge. Carlson: The Blazers will be better with him, but they aren't going to suddenly become world-beaters or anything. His return will make things harder on the Thunder which will be looking for every last win it can scratch out, but it will take a few more years before Oden and the Blazers start really wrecking havoc on the rest of the league. Tramel: What return? He's never played. But the appearance of Greg Oden means the average age of the Western Conference goes down, but everyone will think of the TrailBlazers as older, since Oden looks 54.