Paul George has been traded by the team that drafted him back in the 2010 NBA draft. With the tenth pick, the Indiana Pacers found one of the bonafide stars in the league. Now the marriage between George and the Pacers comes to an end. The Oklahoma City Thunder will now be the new home for the 4-time all-star. In exchange, Oklahoma City will send Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers.
George will partner with the 2016/2017 NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook, which should be an exciting duo. This is crucial for the Thunder after a huge hole was created last season when Kevin Durant left for the Golden State Warriors last summer. The versatile small forward won’t score quite as much as Durant once did, but that shouldn’t be an issue with Westbrook still taking the majority of the shots. George’s strengths are all-around defense, ability to finish against anybody in the paint with pure athleticism and strength, as well as catching and shooting. He is technically a D-and three player but arguably could be the best in the league playing that role.
There were struggles winning in Indiana for the small forward over the last few years. They’ve never had another player on their team that could take over games with the ball in his hands effectively. Therefore, George was forced to play the point forward role a ton which does not fit his game. Don’t get me wrong, he still was able to put up monster point and assist numbers since emerging as the star in Indiana, but a team will get the most out of him if he is used as the second scoring option on offense. Let him focus on just dunking on people, hitting open three-pointers, and defending any team’s best forward or guard.
With Russell Westbrook running the show in Oklahoma City, George should fit in perfectly. Westbrook not only led the NBA in scoring a year ago with 32.9 ppg but also dished 10.4 apg. Expect the assists numbers to go up even higher now that Westbrook won’t be kicking the ball out to Andre Roberson or Jerami Grant playing small forward as much. Instead, George will be the one wide open after the former MVP draws the defense in when he burns the defense to the basket. The 27-year-old forward was very effective last season in this situation as he shot 59.9 percent from the field last season in catch-and-shoot scenarios. Not to mention, he is one of the best defenders the league has to offer. The next matchup against Kevin Durant and the Warriors should be interesting with George now responsible for the former NBA Finals MVP.
For Indiana, they were looking to get whatever they could for George as he is expected to head elsewhere in free agency next season. His name has been floating around the NBA trade rumors for months now and a deal has finally struck. The Pacers will receive two young players to build around for their future. Oladipo is an accomplished defender and has been since being drafted second overall in the 2013 draft. The shooting guard shows elite athleticism and can finish well around the rim which led to him scoring 15.9 ppg last season. However, shooting has always been the Achilles heel in his game. Last season was in improvement from three as he surpassed his career high at 36.1 percent. Consistency still shows to be an issue but there is still plenty of time for him as he just turned 25. Sabonis was a
Sabonis was a first round pick last season and showed to have a solid three-point shot. He shows good physicality as a power forward but he possesses a low ceiling. His career will rely on how well he can shoot the deep ball. Indiana could work well for him with up-and-coming star Myles Turner taking over the paint on offense.
All in all, this was a solid trade for both sides. Indiana receives two young promising players to add to the rebuild happening there. OKC receives the big prize in George, but there is high risk involved. George will become an unrestricted free agent after next season. Multiple reports have stated that he is dying to play in his hometown of Los Angeles with the Lakers. It’s anybody’s guess as to what he will do next offseason, but for now he will be suiting up with the Westbrook and the Thunder.