Paul George is, by any estimation, a very good basketball player. There are maybe 15-20 people on the planet who are better at the sport than him, and this summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to compensate him in a way that acknowledges his talent. Despite the fact that rumors existed for more than a year about his desire to head to Los Angeles and join his hometown Lakers, George and the Thunder came to terms on a four-year, $137 million deal.
Now that he’s getting paid like a star and his future is no longer up in the air, George can focus on creating a formidable two-headed monster with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. It also begs the question: For a player who has long been one of the league’s more subtle superstars, how will success be defined during his time with the Thunder?
Two of our writers decided to dive into this topic on the heels of George’s 27-point outing in the Thunder’s opening night loss to Golden State. He was thrust into a relatively new role with the team, as he was asked to lead Oklahoma City with Westbrook sidelined following a procedure on his knee. While the Thunder came up short in the 108-100 loss, George reminded everyone that he is capable of going toe-to-toe with some of the best players in the league.
Bill: Chris, hi, hello. Let’s talk about Paul George — we both agree that he is a superstar, and we both agree that he’s among the more unique superstars in the NBA because of his willingness to go with the flow. In Oklahoma City, that means fill in whatever gaps pop up offensively (namely being able to stretch the floor) and, at least until Andre Roberson comes back, he’ll guard the opposing team’s best player on defense.
That’s really good! There aren’t many players as good on both ends of the floor as George, and even rarer is a player as willing to do all the stuff that George is willing to do while simultaneously being viewed as a superstar. But I think, and I’ll let you touch on this, that his willingness to fill in gaps and never really impose himself is what makes it so hard to figure out what will ultimately make his tenure in Oklahoma City successful.