BY: JOHN DELEON
A couple of years ago, Paul George made a business decision for his future. He decided that he would not be re-signing and let the front office of the Indiana Pacers know ahead of time, of his choice. Basketball fans across the globe believed George would be trying to force his way to his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The monkeywrench thrown in all of this, people believe he wanted to end up in LA, the Lakers decided against giving anything up in a trade for something (or someone) they believed could be theirs, essentially, for nothing. It was a conundrum.
While a member of the Indiana Pacers, George was a member of the All-NBA Team three times, All-Defensive Team twice, made the All Star teams four times, won Most Improved Player and was also a member of the All-Rookie Team. LeBron James and the Heatles (Miami Heat) were making their back-to-back Finals appearance, George and the Pacers also did all they could to get in the way of that happening. In 2013, it took 7 games. In 2014, it took 6 games.
George announced his arrival with this dunk. On the evening of June 30th, 2017, Paul George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The trade was completed by the NBA League Office on July 6th. George would join Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony for their version of a big three. The team had it’s moments during the season but only made it to the first round of the playoffs, before being knocked off by the Utah Jazz.
Addition By Subtraction
During the summer of 2018, OKC had a situation it needed to remedy: keep Carmelo Anthony and pay upwards of $100 million in luxury taxes, use the waive-and-stretch provision on Melo’s $27.9 million contract and not have such a high luxury tax bill or find a trade partner and at least try to get someone in return. The trade partner ended up being the Atlanta Hawks. The Thunder sent the Hawks Melo and a 2022 protected first-round pick (protected 1-14, becomes two second-round picks if not conveyed in that first year) in return for Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala. Muscala was then sent to the Philadelphia 76ers for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, with Justin Anderson going to Atlanta. Melo is currently a member of the Houston Rockets, who he signed with after being released by Atlanta.
The 2018-2019 Season
So far this season, PG13 is averaging 27.3ppg on 45% shooting percentage, shooting 40.2% from 3, 8rpg and 4apg. The thing that separates him from everyone else on the MVP, is his ability and desire to play defense. Yes, I know analytically speaking that Harden plays the best post defense, but sometimes I’m not here for analytics. PG13 will guard your best offensive player if he’s a guard or wing and switch onto post players and bang with the big boys too.
A little over a week ago, the Thunder took on the Milwaukee Bucks, occasionally PG13 went against Giannis Antetokounmpo holding him to 22 points on 8 of 22 shooting, while dropping 36 points, 13 boards and 8 threes. The Thunder as a team blocked Giannis’s shot a total of 8 times during the game. Giannis should be considered one of the top five candidates for MVP this year, the Bucks are currently the top seed in the Eastern Conference and NBA, leading the Golden State Warriors by percentage points for the top spot.
Recently (January 29th), PG13 had 31 in the first half and a total of 37 along with 6 boards and 4 assists vs. Orlando Magic leading the Thunder to another win, 126 to 117.
One player, who is allowing George to have the year that he is having, by deferring to him, Russell Westbrook, an MVP in his own right, averaging a triple double for the third year in a row, deserves a tremendous amount of respect. Westbrook has been struggling shooting the ball, but has had no problem passing the ball to George and his Thunder teammates.
In all honesty, I believe James Harden will win the MVP in back-to-back years, but, if it’s not him, I like PG13 or even Giannis to win this year with Nikola Jokic being a sleeper pick, to give some new life to the award. There’s been 6 different winners in the past ten years.