OKC Thunder: With ‘Playoff P’ sputtering – the deal looks better and better

Paul George is affecting both the OKC Thunder and Clippers playoff race but only one side should be happy with the results!

They say hindsight is 20-20 and in the case of Paul George his trade request from the OKC Thunder last offseason will be on our minds for years to come.

At the time it felt like the talented wing was pulling the plug prematurely and there were many who wondered why he bothered to re-sign with the OKC Thunder if he could be so easily swayed to leave one season later.

His last year with the OKC Thunder was earmarked by nominations as the Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the year. Neither of those accolades will come in his new situation regardless of how he plays. Not when his running partner is Kawhi Leonard who is the one A superstar on the Clippers and a far more skilled defender.

Sam Presti turned George’s trade demand into gold for the OKC Thunder. Immediately the haul of draft picks made the deal a win for the franchise. The clear bonus, of course, was getting a cornerstone talent of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s ability in the package (yes – we stole Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from you LA). Then factor in Danilo Gallinari‘s addition and how he’s become such a pivotal piece of this iteration of the Thunder and clutch time crew.

Where the deal gains recognition is the current showing in the bubble playoffs. While the OKC Thunder weren’t expected to even make the playoffs the LA Clippers gave up their future with the sole purpose of winning championships —- NOW!

Unlike the Thunder tying the series which is already being cited as an accomplishment regardless of how the series plays out the Clippers also being deadlocked with the Mavericks is considered a fail.

OKC Thunder are benefiting by ‘Playoff P’ being in LA

Dive in deeper and it’s the play of Paul George specifically that is raising eyebrows. Yeah– we’re talking about the guy who dubbed himself “Playoff P”. At the time I remember having a discussion with the TI team and stating that wasn’t a smart move of the star given some of his past playoff performances.

Turns out PG might’ve wanted to remain quiet as he also got into the petty and shade making fun of Damian Lillard missing his two free throws at the end of the Clippers – Blazers seeding game. A superstitious person would point to him doing that and say he’s getting his just rewards.

Through four playoff games Paul George has shot the ball 69 total times and hit 20 for a 28.9 percent field goal efficiency and 22.2 percent from deep. He’s not getting better either – he’s regressing as his first game was arguably his best:

2020 Playoffs Table
RkMPFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%FTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
137:281022.455411.36431.0002320327
231:35417.235210.20041.00010201214
337:45316.18818.12541.0009720211
445:06314.21417.14321.000831029
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2020.

If you remove that first game his shooting efficiency is an abysmal 21.3 percent from the field and 16.0 percent from deep. Playoff P — huh?

In contrast, the two players who came to the OKC Thunder as part of the George package are faring much better.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a rough first game but has progressed in each outing and while he didn’t score 20 in Game 4 he grabbed a crucial 12 rebounds.

2020 Playoffs Table
RkMPFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKPTS
135:0828.25013.333441.00041019
237:20917.52937.4291011.909621031
348:19918.50037.429221.000764123
443:54717.41225.400221.0001260018
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2020.

 

Again a quick glance at his stats shows he’s shooting over 40 percent from deep outside that first game and his rebounds are getting better each time out.

As for Gallo he’s experienced some ups and downs but continues to affect the game in numerous ways. Being thrust into playing some five might also be affecting his fatigue level and shooting but aside from an off shooting game in this last outing he’s collecting 17 or more points.

2020 Playoffs Table
RkMPFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKPTS
133:12917.52925.400991.000330129
233:27512.41713.333661.000510017
338:44412.333411.364881.000711020
429:20310.30013.333221.00030109
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2020.

 

Ultimately, the two players who came to the Thunder for Paul George are combining to average 39.1 points, 4.3 triples, and 10.8 free throws while PG is averaging 15.3, two 3-pointers (on nine attempts), and 3.3 free throws (regresses to 11 points and 1.3 triples in his last three games).

It’s not a direct apple for apple comparison but if you take either of SGA or Gallo, they are each individually producing more than George.

Living in Toronto and watching all the Raptors games and OKC Thunder games the subject of Paul George is frequently discussed with the BBoyz when we convene. With confirmation, there was tampering involved, one of those hot points is how Leonard is feeling.

You have to imagine he’s rethinking forcing the Clippers to add Paul George given how well Shai and Gallo have played all season and into the playoffs. Put them on that stacked Clippers squad instead of PG and where are they now?

Thankfully, the Clippers don’t have that option and it’s the OKC Thunder who has a cornerstone talent, Gallo potentially returning or doing a sign and trade and all those draft picks.

It’s likely Kawhi Leonard will come out ready to beast tonight whether Paul George shows up or not. And, with confirmation, Kristaps Porzingis is out again the odds favor the Clippers grabbing this game.

If they lose again I’d love to be a fly on the wall in that Clippers locker room.