Oklahoma City Thunder: 3 Goals for Paul George in 2018-19

Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder, Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Score 24 Points Per Game on 45 Percent Shooting

George wasn’t ineffective as a scorer. He shot 40.1 percent on the highest volume of three-point shots (7.7 per game) in his career. He had the second-highest effective field goal percentage (52.1 percent) of his time in the league. It was about what one would’ve expected from one of the game’s best shooting wings.

Nonetheless, there were some growing pains alongside Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder traded with the New York Knicks for Anthony in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a future draft pick (as was reported by Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports).

George had to sacrifice shots a bit, particularly down the stretch. It’s hard to envision Westbrook suddenly deferring to PG (or anybody for that matter) in closing stretches of games, but without Anthony’s ball-stopping, there will be more offensive flow to create looks. According to ESPN’s Royce Young, Anthony was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team deal.

“The three-team trade sending Anthony, Justin Anderson and a 2022 lottery protected first-round pick (via OKC) to the Hawks; Dennis Schröder and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Thunder; and Mike Muscala to the 76ers, is official.”

Melo then finalized a buyout with the Hawks, per Wojnarowski, and then verbally agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets, per Charania. Long story short: without Anthony’s need for the ball in the mid-post and as an inefficient three-point man (a below average 35.7 percent), George, Westbrook, and Schröder will have more opportunity to push the pace and make plays. Despite having the ball in his hands a bit less, George graded out very efficiently as a scorer in a number of play types last year, and I’d expect him to build on that in 2018-19.

He placed in the 73rd percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handling scorer, in the 93rd percentile in spot-ups, in the 72nd off-screens, per Synergy Sports.

After the All-Star festivities, he was not able to get comfortable, though, and OKC’s often stagnant offense around him likely contributed some to that.

He shot just 38.5 percent from the field, and just 32.4 percent from three after the All-Star break, per NBA.com.

With Schröder’s added playmaking and Steven Adams’ offensive rebounding element, George should be able to get even more of those perimeter shots that Anthony was getting. This pass by Schroder to Kyle Korver in transition should have George frothing at the mouth.

Next year, the Thunder will have more players on the floor that can create for George. That should increase his shooting percentage and with Schröder’s speed in transition, he should get more chances for trailing threes and dunks. For his next goal, I’d like to see George play more as a small-ball four for OKC.

Next Up: Goal 2