One of the biggest moves during the NBA offseason has already taken place. The brilliant Paul George, whom Magic Johnson and the Lakers were ga-ga over, is now an Oklahoma City Thunder. What it means is that NBA MVP Russell Westbrook gets to pass to another Top 5 hardcourt player. Keep reading to find out how Paul George in Oklahoma City could end up being the biggest story in the 2017-2018 NBA Season.
What Paul George Brings to Oklahoma City
Let's not kid ourselves. Paul George is a supreme talent. The small forward is so good that none other than Magic Johnson was trying to make a deal to get George into Los Angeles, and into the purple and gold, since the 2016-2017 NBA Season ended.
There's a reason Magic was so high on George. He's only 27-years-old. What it means is that he's got some upside. That's scary because he averaged over 23 points and 6.6 boards per game while he was the only option for the Indiana Pacers this past season.
George also averaged close to 2 steals per game. Before only scoring 15 points in Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 1 of this year's NBA Playoffs, George had scored 32, 29, 32, and 36. In Game 3 versus the Cavs, the one that Indiana lost 114 to 119, George added 15 boards and 9 assists.
The man can play basketball.
How George's Addition Affects Russell's Game
The league MVP averaged a triple-double this past season. Russell Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 boards, and 10.4 assists per game. Russell single-handedly played the Oklahoma City Thunder into the playoffs.
Is Russell's game going to get hurt because Paul George is on the team? Not at all. Russell should excel with George on the team. Paul George has the ball-handling skills to play the point while Russell works on the blocks, he's too strong for most other point-guards in the NBA, or drains threes.
If anything, Russell's scoring might dip while his assists and rebounds go up. Russell was unstoppable when he was the only player that OKC opponents had to pay attention to.
Now, Russell gets to play with one of the best, if not the best, small forward in the game. Westbrook could win another MVP. Only this season, he might win it by averaging 25 points, 12 assists, and 12 boards per game.
Predicted Oklahoma City Thunder Starting 5
PG – Russell Westbrook
G – Andre Roberson
SF – Paul George
PF – Enis Kanter
C – Steve Adams
One of the best ways for OKC coach Billy Donovan to counter the run and gun squads in Houston and Golden State is to do the exact opposite. Adams, Kanter, and George could make up one of the very best frontlines in the NBA.
Both George and Kanter can shoot the three. That means whomever guards those guys might have to leave the lane open for Russell to drive and dish to Adams, or for Adams to just muscle it up for easy buckets.
I love pairing Roberson in the backcourt with Russell. What I love so much about that is the fact that Roberson can drive, shoot, or set up screens for Russell. Westbrook doesn't need much space to get to the rim. Roberson can do all of it at the top of the key.
But, that's not the real reason the above line-up excites me. Why the line-up above really excites me is because it's difficult to think of a better defensive team in the NBA.
Lest we forget, the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons beat both the Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers in the late 1980's by playing defense. Even Michael Jordan's Bulls were built around excellent defensive players. Billy Donovan? He coached some of the best defensive teams in college basketball history when he was at Florida.
If OKC decides to be the anti-Golden State, who knows? It might work out. There's a reason to be excited if you're an Oklahoma City Thunder fan.