Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Dennis Schroder has felt a different vibe in the locker room since Russell Westbrook departed to play next to longtime friend James Harden and the Houston Rockets.

Schroder only played one season with Westbrook, but he already sees something different in the air.

“I mean, Russell's my guy,” said Schroder, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “But Russell is Russell Westbrook. He's earned everything he's done in the NBA. He's a hell of a player. (Paul George) the same. But I think this year, with Chris Paul, he talks a lot as well. Talks with the coach, being in touch with him. I think it's just a different vibe we have in this locker room, and it works.

The spark plug was quick to mention the end of an era, a 4-1 defeat in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs that ultimately spelled the end of the road for Westbrook in OKC, soon asking for a trade after Paul George left for Los Angeles.

“Last year I think we could have took it further than we did, but it didn't work,” said Schroder. “Portland had a hell of a series. But this year we're on the same page. That's a credit to [coach Billy] Donovan, putting us where we need to go.

“Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), Chris (Paul), everybody's sacrificing. Myself, we're sacrificing to get to this point as well. I've seen a lot in this league and normally that never works out.”

The Thunder weren't expected to be competing for a playoff spot, but their mix of savvy veterans and key contributors have turned them into a team worthy of it. After winning seven of their last 10 games, they're sixth in the West with a 33-22 record, only two games back from Westbrook's Rockets.