Russell Westbrook will be looking to follow up on his MVP season alongside the Thunder’s two high-profile offseason acquisitions, but guest Colin Ward-Henninger foresees chemistry challenges ahead (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com helps preview the talent-loaded Western Conference after an action-packed offseason replete with key player movement.

8:54-9:52: “Paul George actually had a higher usage rate and more touches than Melo last year, and we all know what Russ [Westbrook] does on the court. And he had a hard enough time playing with Durant, and then when Durant left, we saw the madness that happened last year with just the NBA record usage rate of like 40 percent or something like that, which is insane, and it’s hard to just turn that off. I think it’s going to take a while…I think it’s going to be very difficult. I think that Paul George is going to have the hardest time adjusting, because I think he’s going to be the one who’s expected to take fewer shots. Melo, we hope at this stage in his career understands that he’s not the No. 1 guy or even the No. 2 guy in this case, but you never know. And these are two guys that can opt out of their contracts, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So if they get 20 games into the season and they don’t like playing with Russ, there’s some Operation Shutdown potential there.”

14:02-16:16: “A lot of people are saying that they’re going to be a Top-5 seed or maybe even crack that Top 4, but I just don’t see it. They’ve got a lot of work to do, but I do think bringing in Jimmy Butler is going to create some accountability for these young guys. Towns and Wiggins are going to have to start playing some defense or else they’re going to hear it from not only Thibodeau but also Jimmy Butler…It’s mostly the defense [that’s concerning], but it’s also how these guys are going to fit together. Towns is a guy who needs the ball, wants the ball. He sees himself as the alpha dog. That was clear during his rookie season; he snatched that from Wiggins right away. Wiggins is another guy who needs the ball to be effective.”

25:01-25:38: “It’s funny; we haven’t even mentioned the Pelicans in this entire podcast, which kind of tells you about their state of affairs down there. Coming from Sacramento, I’m not a huge DeMarcus Cousins fan. You watch that guy day in and day out, and you see what kind of effect he has on his teammates, his attitude. Obviously incredibly talented; you always have to put that in when you talk about DeMarcus Cousins, but it’s hard to see him in a winning situation down there. And over the summer, the Pelicans ownership didn’t exactly give [coach Alvin] Gentry a nod of confidence when they basically said, ‘We’re going to keep him around until we see find something better,’ so I think Gentry’s the first coach out.”

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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod