Thunder are championship contenders again with George


Bleacher Report

Paul George shoots the ball against the Brooklyn Nets on March 13, which was an eventual 108-96 win.

Zack Siegel, Staff Writer

Ranked fourth in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder are having a great 2018-2019 NBA season so far.  Led by point guard Russell Westbrook and small forward Paul George, the team currently has a record of 40 wins to 26 losses and might just have what it takes to make a deep playoff run.

Westbrook is not only an extremely talented player, but also a great leader.  His impressive skills have had a huge impact on the direction of the Thunder’s season.  Averaging 23.1 points a game and a triple double, Westbrook dominates when he’s on the court, especially when accompanied by George.  Sometimes outshining Westbrook, George averages 28.4 points per game.  Both players carry the team and may lead them far in the playoffs, depending on how the rest of the regular season goes.

The OKC Thunder started off their season poorly.  They lost the first four games of the season, and proceeded to win the next 11 out of 14 games.  In their first game of the season, the OKC Thunder lost to the Golden State Warriors, with the game ending with a score of 108-100.  The Warriors are the defending champions, and are a particularly difficult team to go up against in the first game of your season. On Nov. 21, though, the Thunder beat the Warriors with a score of 123-95. George had 25 points and 9 rebounds, while Westbrook posed a triple double with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists.

“Right now, OKC is fourth in the Western Conference and they should be making the playoffs pretty easily, assuming there is no downfall that comes out of the blue.  Right now, Paul George is probably the clutchest player in the NBA.  Of course, the Thunder also have Russell Westbrook, who is a former MVP winner and when he puts up triple doubles the Thunder win about 80 percent of the time.  That is pretty sick,” said freshman Andy Feinstein.

Clearly the success of the Thunder depend heavily on the success of Westbrook and George.  However, the team also has many other fantastics role players.

“They also have Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams, and Terrance Ferguson, who are all very solid. Also, Andre Roberson, who has been hurt the entire season, is one of the top defenders in the league.” added Feinstein

As of late, George has transformed into an MVP candidate.  His competition includes James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I think that in the beginning of the season, no one seriously considered George an early MVP candidate, and this was true even up to about a month ago.  But right now, the level he’s playing at is incredible and all of his skills are sort of coming together all at once, which is something that we rarely saw last year during his first season with the Thunder.  So if the MVP award is truly given to the ‘most valuable player,’ then he is definitely a legitimate candidate,” said Feinstein.

With such great skill and success on the court, George may just have what it takes to win the MVP award.  Averaging around eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals a game, George is a beast that has a very good chance of being named MVP this year.

“Paul George is definitely an MVP candidate.  He is a stud on the defensive end, and he consistently puts up huge numbers.  Also, he is super clutch, and has hit quite a few shots to give OKC some critical wins,” said freshman Max Garmisa.

However, not everyone feels this way about George.  This is because although his performance is very impressive on the court, he has a lot of good teammates who also carry the burden for the Thunder.

“I don’t think Paul George is a big MVP candidate because James Harden is just flat out better, and same with the ‘Greek Freak’ [Giannis Antetokounmpo],” said freshman Hudson Greenberg.

The Thunder are built for a long run in the postseason, and George definitely has what it takes to be in the conversation for the MVP award if he is able to keep playing at such a high level.