Paul George gifts Russell Westbrook 37 on his 29th birthday
Paul George has been absolutely white hot in his last two games. Just days after dropping 42 on the Los Angeles Clippers, the All-Star small forward hung 37 points on the Dallas Mavericks in their Sunday night showdown.
George’s 37 led all scorers, but it was his jaw-dropping seven triples that broke down the Dallas defense. While his scoring opened eyes, PG-13’s eight rebounds and five assists reminded Thunder fans just how impactful his game can be when he’s at his peak.
While he’s enjoyed quote the successful season from a statistical standpoint, the Thunder remain under .500 despite dispatching Dallas. He leads OKC in scoring at 22.5 points per game, but it’s his great hands, quick instincts and leadership at the other end that have carried the Thunder to the second best defensive rating in the league.
Don’t let Oklahoma City’s staggering defensive numbers fool you into think they’re an elite team, their offensive numbers would say otherwise. At this moment, they rank in the bottom half of the league in points per game and offensive rating, and while it’s not too concerning this early into the season, should these problems persist, it could spell some real trouble for the Thunder.
It doesn’t help that Russell Westbrook’s statistics have fallen dramatically in almost every category or that his free-throw shooting has fallen off the face of the earth. It also doesn’t help that he’s taking the fewest attempts from the stripe since his sophomore year in the NBA. Some of these regressions were to be expected with the additions of George and Carmelo Anthony, but so far, he’s looked like anything but the head honcho on his own team.
Russ will likely find his shot and reestablish himself as the main man in OKC, but until then, expect the Thunder to struggle. Westbrook doesn’t necessarily need the ball in his hand on every play down the floor, but as his success on his birthday would suggest, executing as spot up shooter isn’t exactly his cup of tea.
The Brodie is most successful when operating as the primary facilitator, he’s a great setup man and the threat of George and Anthony on the perimeter should give him the ability to excel in iso situations. Even when he played second fiddle to Kevin Durant, he still had the ball in his hands much more than any other player on the floor.
Although Durant skipped town long ago he’s the best player on this team, the plan shouldn’t change. He’s got all the weapons he needs to succeed. Expect the Thunder’s record to recover as his numbers do the same.