We’ve spent a lot of time breaking down the two-man race for MVP between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. But Nuggets coach Brian Shaw thinks it’s Paul George who is the best two-way player in the game.
KD has upped his production in every facet of the game this season while setting the league on fire, scoring better than 25 points in every game since Jan. 3, and leading a Russell Westbrook-less Thunder team to the best record in the Western Conference. James has won four of the last five MVP awards and the last two NBA titles and many â€” including us â€” believe he’s the best player on the planet until someone takes the Larry O’Brien trophy away from him.
But Denver Post beat writer Chris Dempsey tweeted this Shaw quote following Indiana’s 118-80 win over Denver on Monday night:
#Nuggets Brian Shaw on Indy's Paul George: "I think he's the best two-way player in game. Hands down. That includes LeBron & anybody else.."
— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) February 10, 2014
George scored just 12 points on Monday, going 4-of-10 in 26 minutes with five rebounds and four assists. It wasn’t exactly a dominating performance, but Shaw’s not crazy to put George in the discussion for best two-way player. He’s wrong, of course, but not because of LeBron.
If we compare the numbers of James, Durant and George this season (per basketball-reference.com, naturally) we see that Durant and James are both vastly superior to George on the offensive side of the ball. But defensively, George has slightly better numbers.
He’s got 4.4 defensive win shares to 3.2 for Durant and just 1.9 for LeBron. His overall defensive rating is significantly better, but a lot of that can be attributed to Indiana’s superiority defending the basket in comparison to OKC and Miami. But he’s also averaging more steals per game and has a higher steal percentage.
But the primary thing that jumps out at us when we look at the numbers and when we watch the games (don’t get all old fashioned and lambaste analytics or ignore actual games) is how much better Kevin Durant is playing than both ‘Bron and George. George might hold a slight edge on the defensive end, but it’s a lot slighter than you’d think and KD has gotten a lot stronger on that side of the ball. On offense, it’s no question as both ‘Bron and KD sport a higher PER, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, offensive rating, offensive win shares, assist percentage and usage percentage.
Paul George isn’t the best two-way player in the NBA, but he’s certainly in the discussion now.
Who is the best two-way player in the NBA today?
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