Basketball is back, and in the early part of the 2016 season, some NBA teams have already shown flashes of major change from last year--some for the better, some for the worse. Young players have proven their worth, remodeled teams have flexed their new talent, and Derrick Rose isn't hurt yet. There is plenty of food for thought after just a few contests, so we boiled it all down into a few eyebrow-raisers after one week of play in the new season.

The Warriors have growing pains, but teams should still be nervous

Golden State's infamous NBA Finals flop a year ago brought tumultuous change to the NBA's landscape of superstars. The Warriors' newly acquired offensive firepower with Kevin Durant is lethal, but wins and rings do not come from paper. The Warriors are 2-1 after falling to the new-look San Antonio Spurs on opening night and downing the underwhelming Pelicans and Suns.

Not all is bad in Oakland as the Warriors are still averaging 111 points per contest in the early stages of the season, but their efficiency and defense have wavered. The Warriors allowed 129 and 122 points in their first two games, with only 13 total blocks through all three. The loss of Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli inside the paint is evident already, and the Dubs have some adjustments to make on the defensive end if they want to head back to the NBA Finals to redeem their fumble last year. However, Kevin Durant has looked spectacular, tossing up nearly 31-10-5 with two blocks and two steals a game.

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Assuming he meshes with Steve Kerr's system throughout the year, Durant could be the last push to make a triumphant return to the Finals and add another banner to Oracle Arena. 

Russell Westbrook might not be as MVP-worthy as his stats would suggest

Throwing shade at Russell Westbrook is not a good move: he doesn't take it lightly. However, Westbrook's historic 51-point triple double in the season opener and his subsequent 32-12-9 need to be taken in better context.

The Thunder star's explosion in game one came with a cumbersome win in which Westbrook forced 44 shots and made only 11 as Oklahoma secured a win against the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that won a league-worst 10 games last season. Admittedly, any performance that stuffed the stat sheet deserves high-praise, but Westbrook's league-high 42.2 usage percentage might spell out why his MVP chances could be lower than everyone expects.

Unfortunately, this is déjà vu for the Thunder guard. Two seasons ago, when Kevin Durant was sidelined with a foot injury, Russell Westbrook posted 28.1 points, 8.6 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game and finished fourth in MVP voting as the Thunder failed to make the playoffs. Russ also missed a league-leading 844 field goal attempts in 2015 and could be on pace for a similar season this year, which could leave the star on the outskirts of Most Valuable Player voting yet again this year.

Teams will not shy away from opening up the checkbook moving forward

The deadline for contract extensions on rookie contracts from the 2013 draft class passed on the 31st, and many were able to net big deals just before time ran out. Dennis Schroder, Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gobert, Steven Adams, and Gorgui Dieng signed four-year contract extensions worth a combined total of $420 million. Numbers of this magnitude come as no surprise considering the extreme amounts of cash that got tossed around this offseason, but the upcoming free agency periods will likely take salaries to unprecedented heights. The salary cap for the 2016-2017 season is over $94 million, $24 million higher than last season. The salary floor has also risen to $84 million for this season, literally forcing teams to spend money in the offseason (e.g. Timofey Mozgov's 4-year, $64 million deal understandable). With star talent like Steph Curry and Chris Paul available in the market and nearly every team having money available, green will start getting tossed around at high rates.

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