OKC Thunder star Paul George No. 11 on Sports Illustrated Top 100 list

Paul George, OKC Thunder  (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
Paul George, OKC Thunder  (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder re-signed star Paul George captures number 11 on the Sports Illustrated Top 100  player list just missing out on the top ten talents in the NBA.

In his second full season with the OKC Thunder Paul George begins the new campaign recognized by Sports Illustrated’s annual Top 100 NBA players just on the periphery of the top 10 talents. Coming in at number 11 George moves up one spot from a season ago. when he ranked 12th on the list.  A commonality of writers Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney‘s list is a penchant for recognizing two-way talents, of which George is undoubtedly among the Association’s best.

On last year’s list George was finishing out what was considered a long and fruitful seven year tenure in Indiana. Flanking him on 2018 Top 100 list were Washington Wizards point man John Wall (13th) and the player he’s most compared to; another two-way star, Jimmy Butler (11th).

The trio of two-way masters:

This season George’s wing men are Toronto Raptors new franchise talent Kawhi Leonard (12th) and once again, Jimmy Butler who still ranks one spot ahead of him in 10th. An interesting side note from these three players is they are arguably considered the best two-way players with the highest possible ceiling cumulatively on either side of the court. Each of them can stop an opponent cold and all of the trio can take over a game in the clutch. Although George was “the man” in Indy, the one factor which separates him is his seeming preference to be a co-captain or secondary option.

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The other similarity between the triad is both Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves) and George changed teams last season. And, after a soap opera-ish, nine game campaign in San Antonio Leonard departs for the North with a view to reclaiming his top five ranking.

His position behind Butler and George may speak to this duo likely not moving up the ladder, rather Leonard dropped down due to the uncertainty of what to expect as he returns from injury.

Still, with only one season under his belt and an awkward one at that, PG13 shocked the naysayers quickly re-upping for the long haul in OKC. The first go round required George to transition with his new squad learning a foreign system, and role, non-stop free agency talk, a big three that never truly found a groove and a myriad of injuries.

This campaign, if for no other reason than he’s comfortable in Oklahoma and won’t have to address contract questions projects to be a far more tenable situation.

As with all the OKC Thunder players who are honored on the Top 100 list Rob Mahoney provided the ranking profile. Here’s an excerpt for the list:

"Playing in Oklahoma City works for him. George does his best work when he doesn’t have to handle the ball on every possession, which is never really a problem with Russell Westbrook around. Both operate in ways that make the other’s job easier: Westbrook’s shot creation is a relief to George, who can do more of his work off the ball. Meanwhile, George is enough of a draw that a defense can’t just load up against Westbrook’s drives. One pushes, the other pulls.. — RM"

Cracking the top 10 – while putting his stamp on OKC:

Carmelo Anthony is gone, Sam Presti retooled the roster with complimentary pieces to augment what is now the OK2 and Andre Roberson will return this year. The latter is extremely relevant as one of PG’s oft cited enthusiasms about the Thunder centered on his chemistry and fit with ARob.

Witnessing the limitless boundaries at his disposal via the combination of Westbrook taking over offensively and Dre defensively opened Pandora’s box (in the best way possible) for George.

News Russell Westbrook underwent an arthroscopic knee procedure and is likely to miss all of training camp and preseason will have an effect in the early going.

For Paul George this is the moment for him to step into the spotlight and place his imprint on the squad and demonstrate his ability to lead.

Related: 3 ways OKC can make gains while Westbrook is out with injury

In this regard, injuries are never a positive situation, but if the time Westbrook spends off the court healing allows George to build chemistry with several new teammates it could pay serious dividends in the long run — like cracking that top 10 in 2020!

For Rob Mahoney’s full article on Paul George as well as the complete top 100 list can be found by clicking here.

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That marks the third OKC Thunder player to make the Sports Illustrated 2019 NBA Top 100 Players. Russell Westbrook will be featured in the top 10 and the companion “snubs” article (spoiler) features another OKC Thunder player.