OKC Thunder’s Paul George was named the Western Conference Player of the Week after a big performance in the win against Milwaukee and is beginning to make a case for MVP.
If OKC Thunder star Paul George wasn’t in the MVP conversation before, he is now. Dunking over Giannis Antetokounmpo and scoring 36 points in the win over the Milwaukee Bucks on national TV showed the world what Thunder fans have been seeing all season. And it’s about time he gets some respect, as he’s carried the team offensively the entire season and scored over 30 points in four of the past five games.
Going into the season, the MVP race was as wide open as ever. But the race is beginning to take shape halfway through the season and things are getting interesting.
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By the numbers, James Harden is the clear front runner, averaging an absurd 36.3 points a game. He single-handedly pulled the Rockets out of an early hole, and now his team sits fourth overall in the absence of Chris Paul. However, the way he’s producing could cost him votes.
Harden seems to have a knack for getting the benefit of the doubt from officials, and he’s taking full advantage. Between getting away with clear travels and the officials blowing the whistle in what feels like every possession translates to wins, but might work against him when it comes time to vote.
Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, may not have the same scoring numbers as Harden, at 10 points less per game, but he has led his team to first in the East by doing a little bit of everything on the floor. And the fact that his team is doing better and he’s doing it in a more honorable way than Harden makes a big difference when it comes to swaying voters.
To this point, George has been the dark horse. People were aware of what he was doing, but it seems like someone or something was overshadowing him. Perhaps playing in a small market, playing alongside better teammates or being third in the West has something to do with it.
Regardless, it feels like George is finally getting the recognition he deserves after dunking on Antetokounmpo and beating the Bucks in another astonishing performance on national TV. Of course, there’s no true meter or polls to consider outside of maybe Basketball Reference, the mood of the voters is all based on media attention and season awards like player of the week and month.
But now that we know George is garnering some attention, the trick will be holding it. Something only accomplished by high scoring totals and winning. He will undoubtedly defer to the latter, but George scoring and the Thunder winning directly coincide. Should they keep the current pace, we could have a third MVP out of Oklahoma City.
Breaking down George’s week:
The player of the week honors may seem a little surprising given Jame Harden’s continued assault on the Association, but it proves wins matter. Case in point, the OKC Thunder won all four games last week including two pivotal wins.
Specifically, victories over the inter-division rival Blazers and the East’s best Bucks showcased a return to the OKC Thunder defense with George leading the way.
George posted averages of 31.5 points, nine rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.5 steals through the week’s efforts. His shot was fiery as he hit from the perimeter at a sizzling 56.7 percent (21 of 37 attempts). He also averaged a plus-minus of +13.25 captaining the Thunder defensive effort.
This is Paul George’s second Player of the Week honor this season having earned the award for his play for the week of December 17, 2018. Russell Westbrook has also earned the award once this season (for the week of October 29, 2018). Giannis Antetokoumpo picked up the award for his play in the East.
This is and the seventh occasion Paul George has been bestowed Player of the Week honors in his career.