It is the very first day of July. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s star point guard, Russell Westbrook is hosting a house party, and the whole town is seemingly invited. Suddenly, Paul George takes the microphone from Westbrook and declares that he is “here to stay.”
George’s decision to remain in OKC has proven to be the most consequential free agency moves–not involving Kevin Durant–in franchise history.
The 28-year-old, who was acquired in July of 2017 from the Indiana Pacers, has become an MVP candidate this season, posting 28.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists to go along with a league-leading 2.3 steals per game.
His resurgence has almost everything to do with the Thunder’s recent ascension towards the top of the Western Conference.
But can he keep up this elite level of play?
Here are three pressing questions facing the Thunder after the All-Star Break:
1. Can PG13 sustain this excellence?
The Thunder won 11 of their last 13 before the break, almost all thanks to George. During that stretch, he averaged nearly 35.4 points and filled the stat sheets, including his first career triple-double in a win over Portland.
George has developed more of a reputation as a sniper in recent years, but this season he is shooting 9.6 threes per game–which is 1.9 more attempts per game than his prior career high–and still connecting at a 40 percent rate.
His Effective Field Goal percentage of 54.6 is also a career high, making this not only his most prolific but arguably his most efficient season yet.
All of this while being one of the best defenders in the league.
Can George maintain this level of excellence? Will the MVP conversation motivate him to play even better?
If the answers are affirmative, then the Thunder might be the greatest threat to the Golden State Warriors in the West.
And, on that note…