Every MVP bid is defined by one play that just stands out. Seems ridiculous to judge the best player of the season based on one play, but that is how NBA is.
For every MVP there has to be a ridiculous moment in the season that sort of becomes their prologue to the stats and wins, in the appeal for an MVP.
Paul George has been having himself a mind boggling season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. So much so, that a case could be made that he is in the running for all 3 of the major end of season awards.
The MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year and the most improved player of the year. To put that into perspective you must realize that Paul George was an All-Star last season. He has still improved is much that he can be named the MIP and no one would be shocked.
Paul George recorded his 4th 45-point game of the season on Friday, tied for 3rd-most in a season in Thunder/SuperSonics history.
Only 2016-17 Russell Westbrook (12) and 2013-14 Kevin Durant (5) had more. They both won MVP. pic.twitter.com/xgJUIsay7L
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 23, 2019
Paul George on breaking out a windmill down two in overtime: “That was a statement. Just letting them know, my legs is fresh.” pic.twitter.com/nitX4nDGPQ
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 23, 2019
Paul George is having a season that looks so good statistically it can be compared statistically to that of James Harden on offense and to Rudy Robert on defense.
There have been a lot of excuses for why Harden and Giannis deserve it more, but those excuses are fading fast. Over the season George is averaging 29 Points, 8 Rebounds and 4.2 Assists while playing elite defense and an eFG% of 54.8.
He has led OKC to a position where they are clearly the biggest threat to the Warriors in the West and maybe overall. And he has been doing this with the version of Westbrook that has been chucking bricks like an angry construction worker.
Westbrook has still been elite in everything else, but his usage and his shooting numbers do not point to a team that is 3rd in the West just 2 games behind the Nuggets and 4 games behind the champions.
To be clear there are no other stars in this team either. You could make a car for Steven Adams being a monster on the board and in pick & rolls, but if you honestly think that is why OKC are where they are, you are looking for reasons to not believe in PG13’s MVP bid.
The play in question here, came in 2OT. George had already played over 50 minutes in the game. He had 53 points with 9 rebounds and 7 assists, with ZERO turnovers.
George who has been plenty ridiculed for his terrible clutch performances through the years in Indiana and for his poor showing in the series against Utah Jazz last year, had the ball in his hand and Westbrook had been fouled out of the game.
With less than 4 seconds to play the Jazz, who held a one point lead (147-146), doubled George at the top of the circle and tried to force him to pass. Instead, George split the double team and charged at Rudy Gobert who met him at the top of the key.
George, with 2.5 seconds left on the clock and the other defensive player of the year contender (also the reigning DPOTY) staring him in the face George launched a tear drop. It left his hands with 2.5 seconds left, but he had to put so much height to it, to avoid Gobert that the ball swished with just 0.8 seconds left on the clock.
That’s some serious hang time on a shot.
Check out the video:
Paul George with the GAME WINNER! pic.twitter.com/Zc8Q9sztwM
— Hyped Hoops (@HypedHoops) February 23, 2019
LOOK HOW EXCITED PAUL GEORGE WAS TO SEE RUSS AFTER HE HAD HIT THE GAME WINNING SHOT!! HE WAS SO HAPPY TO SEE RUSS 😱🤩🤩🤩 pic.twitter.com/0r6rQYQWHP
— Jacoby (@onlyonejacoby) February 23, 2019
A game between two prospective 1 round play off opponents had been won by the sheer brilliance of Paul George. If that isn’t the statement moment to legitimize his MVP campaign, nothing can be.