Revisiting OKC Thunder franchise altering blockbuster Paul George trade

Former OKC Thunder star Paul George and Kawhi Leonard #2 LA Clippers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Former OKC Thunder star Paul George and Kawhi Leonard #2 LA Clippers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
OKC Thunder
FEBRUARY 9: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder looks on during the game against the Boston Celtics (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

How the deal is working out for the OKC Thunder:

To say this season is a surprise would be an understatement. Most expected the Thunder to be in the mix for a lottery pick. Moreover, it was expected Sam Presti would disassemble the team at the trade deadline.

Danilo Gallinari was a lock to be traded prior to the deadline. Most thought Chris Paul would be gone along with several of those draft picks attached to sweeten a deal. Plus it was assumed any of Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder and others could land elsewhere as Presti entered the rebuild phase.

Instead, the OKC Thunder stood pat at the deadline and 60 games in are seeded sixth. A position that if the playoffs began today would find them facing these Clippers in a first-round series.

Chris Paul is in a renaissance period of his career reminding all of why his value was far from used up. Gallo not only stayed put but is saying the Thunder will be an option for him to re-sign with this summer. His ability to stretch the court at the power forward position is a big reason why the offense works. He’s the first to do so since the departure of Kevin Durant.

Considering how the Clippers offense has struggled at times this season and gets caught up in iso-ball it begs the question of how much better the Clippers would be if he was still on that squad.

Consider his overall skill set and the value he affords this Thunder team. In his 51 appearances, he’s averaging 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.7 steals and is shooting 41.0 percent from the perimeter on the most attempts of his career (7.3).

light. Related Story. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander historic response to Donovan’s challenge

The Future:

And then there is the future cornerstone of the team Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. A presumed Clippers untouchable until fear of losing Leonard unless LA brought in George changed the circumstances.

The sophomore was earmarked as a budding star with the potential to excel in the future. The young Canadian is flourishing under the tutelage of his mentor and backcourt partner CP3. So much so that he’s already ahead of projections.

On the season he’s averaging 19.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. His perimeter shot at 34.7 percent needs reps and commitment this offseason. Given the youngster’s work ethic there’s no reason to believe he won’t improve to make his offensive versatility reach a new level.

Per Game Table
2018-19 LAC 82 26.5 8.7 .476 1.7 .367 7.0 .503 2.4 .800 2.8 3.3 1.2 10.8
2019-20 OKC 60 35.4 15.0 .464 3.6 .347 11.4 .501 5.2 .800 6.2 3.3 1.1 19.3

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 3/3/2020.

Consider the growth in SGA’s game in a single season. He’s almost doubled his scoring output and has doubled his rebounding effort. Pause to consider he’s also playing with one of the best point guards in the history of the sport which could limit his production but instead has bolstered it. The clutch time “United Nations” lineup features three point guards as Dennis Schroder enters the rotation.

And, instead of shrinking as the season has progressed he’s building and improving. Breaking the season into three segments helps showcase that growth:

Games 1-20:

18.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 3.9 free throws per game

Games 21-40:

21.8 points, 6.5 rebounds,  2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 6.0 free throws per game

Games 41 -60:

18.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.1 blocks, 5.6 free throws per game

Each segment of these three tiers showcases development. Specifically, his rebounding, blocks and free throw attempts are witnessing advances.

Oh, and did I mention he’s 21 years old and doesn’t turn 22 until July 12th.