After seven seasons in Indiana, Paul George is officially swapping out his Pacers jersey for a lighter shade of blue. He’s coming to Loud City.
Paul George – also known as PG13 – is one of the NBA’s most gifted superstars. At 6-9, PG13 is an inside-outside threat of the tallest order. He’s an exceptional ball-handler with a beautifully soft touch around the rim, shoots the long-ball with pinpoint accuracy, and he’s absolutely lethal in transition.
George is also an elite defender (3x All-NBA Defensive Team), and quite possibly the most versatile two-way player the Thunder have ever had on the roster. He’s a bonafide game-changing weapon on both sides of the ball.
Since averaging 7.8 points-per-game his rookie season, PG13 has done nothing but exponentially increase his scoring average year-after-year.
George has been an All-Star selection each of the last four seasons. Outside of a fluke Roy Hibbert selection in 2014, no other Pacer ever made the cut during that span.
Playing alongside a point-guard of Westbrook’s caliber will be foreign territory for George. No disrespect to PG13’s former point-guard teammates, but Jeff Teague and George Hill are hardly in the same class as Russell Westbrook.
That brings me to my next point. Paul George hasn’t peaked yet.
He led the 2012-13 Pacers in scoring with 17.4 points-per-game. At the time, he was 22-years-old, and has led the team in scoring by a fairly substantial margin every year since (only exception being the 2014-15 season when George played just 91 total minutes – less than two full games the entire season, due to injury).
He’s only 27-years old. Moving into a new situation in OKC will relieve a good bit of the defensive pressure he’s used to seeing on a nightly basis. Westbrook will drive and kick to PG13 all season. No reason to think his numbers wouldn’t continue to grow.
And Paul George drops daggers from long range. His three-ball is a lethal weapon of mass destruction. He shoots the three well, and he shoots it often. Last season he averaged 6.6 three-point attempts per game. His 39.3% three-point percentage was among tops in the league; better than Kawhi Leonard (38.10%), Dirk (37.80%), KD (37.50%), Jimmy Butler (36.70%), and James Harden (34.70%) among others.
When Kevin Durant left for Golden State, the narrative among national sports media was consistently, “Durant will get more open looks in Golden State. Westbrook was holding Durant back. Steph Curry is a better passer than Russ. Curry will elevate Durant’s game.” Blah. Blah. Blah. The sports pundits and naysayers will likely spew the same anti-Westbrook rhetoric next season. They’ll blame Russ for every loss and say he doesn’t make his teammates better.
In case you’re curious, Durant shot 37.5% from three-point range last season – his worst since 2010-11; and his 25.1 points-per-game was the lowest since his rookie year. Call me salty if you wish, but maybe playing alongside the modern-day Oscar Robertson isn’t such a bad thing after all.
If Paul George were a publicly traded stock, I’d be buying as many shares as I could afford right now.
This is a big deal for OKC. Thunder fans are going to enjoy this.