Since December, Paul George has been playing some of the best basketball of his pro career. Despite his play however, the Oklahoma City Thunder may be in for an early postseason exit, but here is why George should stay in Oklahoma City regardless of what happens this year:
Oklahoma City has the talent to be very good for a long time. The initial struggles of this year’s Thunder team and their inconsistency throughout the season will prevent them from obtaining a high seed in the Western Conference, thus hindering their playoff chances, but they have shown all year that they can compete with the best of the best.
Currently they are 5-0 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Toronto Raptors, and they are not only winning these games, they are dominating them. If the Thunder could play with this same energy against the lesser competition they would be sitting at the top of their conference, and the more time this group is able to spend on the court with each other, the more consistent they will become.
If Paul George were to leave for the Los Angeles Lakers, he would be joining a team that is relying on several different players to eventually grow into superstars. Assuming Lebron James does not join as well, this Lakers team plus Paul George would struggle to make the playoffs in the West.
The Thunder on the other hand have superstars and players that are developing into key contributors. Russell Westbrook is easily a top five player in this league, Steven Adams may become a top three center in the NBA over the next two years, and role players Terrance Ferguson, Alex Abrines, Jerami Grant, and Josh Huestis have already showed signs of improvement over the course of this season.
And let’s not forget about Carmelo Anthony. Anthony will have the option of opting out of his contract after this year, and he likely will do so. Retaining Anthony would great for the Thunder as they would once again have one of the best trios in the NBA, but losing him would not position them as poorly as one might think.
Losing Anthony would give general manager some much needed cap room to acquire more young talent to pair with George, Adams, and Westbrook. The bigger issue surrounding a possible Anthony departure would be the factor that this would play in George’s decision.
George has been said to have a great relationship with Westbrook and Anthony, so losing one of his running mates would not help the Thunder’s chances of securing their all-star wing for the future. However, George should not be thinking about Anthony, it should be Westbrook that makes this decision easy for George.
Westbrook and George’s playing styles mesh perfectly together. Westbrook forces defenses to collapse and George is left open to either shoot or put the ball on the floor and drive. George plays great off the ball, and Westbrook finds him when he’s open. George gets the steals, and finds Westbrook for the electric dunks.
After only one year we’ve seen how special this duo can be when they are both locked in, and unfortunately for the Lakers I think George understands this too.