Young Trece will add Star Power – but Golden State will continue to rule the West
Paul George is now a member of the Western Conference. Although the grass probably seems greener now, George will find out just how different the level of competition is from East to West.
George was traded to Oklahoma City for – what Shannon Sharpe may refer to as – a “mop bucket and a squeegee”, with hopes of helping Russell Westbrook and the Thunder increase their chances in the West.
The Trading Chips
Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis weren’t exactly big time contributors for the Thunder team. Yes, Oladipo had his moments and Sabonis was only in his first season, but neither will have had an impact like PG-13.
Paul George had 229 more points than Oladipo and Sabonis combined.
George played in 75 regular season games. Oladipo and Sabonis – with a combined average of 74 games played – averaged 20.89 PPG through the 2017 season. George averaged 23.66 PPG by himself.
It’s easy to see who won in this trade.
Close, but no Cigar
Although the addition of George will help, it won’t be enough to help OKC overcome Golden State in the Western Conference.
Below is a detailed look of George’s total production for the 2017 NBA regular season.
Those are great numbers – but the majority of games were against the weaker Eastern Conference. George did, however, manage to have a winning record against Western Conference teams last season at 15-13.
But, he was brought into the fold to help dethrone the Warriors.
George vs Golden State
George is 1-5 against Golden State over the past three seasons. He was 0-2 against the Kevin Durant-led Warriors last season.
George did not play in the first meeting between the Pacers-Warriors last season. Golden State annihilated the George-less Pacers by 37 points, 120-83.
In the second meeting, George put up 21 points, 13 of which came from the charity stripe. He shot 4-12 from the field and 0-2 from beyond the arc. Indiana was blown out 142-106. Without George, the Pacers lost by 37. With George, they lost by 36. Not much of a difference.
If George Gels, How Will Thunder Fare in the Western Conference?
The reigning regular season MVP Westbrook totaled 2,558 points on the season. He averaged (yes, a triple-double) 31.6 points per game. Add Enes Kanter’s 1,033 total points, Steven Adams’ 905 total points, and Andre Roberson’s 522 total points to that. Factor in the addition George’s 1,775 – that would mean the new look Thunder’s starting 5 could put up a total of close to 6,793 points.
Furthermore, Westbrook and George – if they gel – look to average a combined 54% from beyond the arc if last season’s production carries over.
The Warriors – however – are on a whole other level. Their big 4 totaled 6,072 regular season points. Add Zaza Pachulia’s 426 total points, that puts Golden State at 6,498.
Curry, Durant, Klay, and Draymond shot a combined 38% from the 3-point line.
But wait a minute? These numbers seem to favor OKC, don’t they?
On paper, it would seem so. However, the game isn’t played on paper. And – as mentioned above – George’s high scoring point totals came against weaker Eastern Conference opponents. Plus, Westbrook repeating the season he had last year is highly unlikely – especially if he’ll be forced to give up some shots to George.
The Warriors bench is superior to the Thunder’s bench. The Warriors added Nick Young and his 791 point total from last season. Not to mention Iggy, Livingston, West, etc. They use the phrase “Strength in Numbers” for a reason.
Their bench has depth. To beat this Golden State team – not only are superstar player(s) a requirement – but also, productivity from the bench is a necessity. The addition of Raymond Felton to the Thunder bench isn’t going to tip the scales by any means.
Lastly, despite Westbrook’s amazing season – he averaged 27.25 PPG against the Warriors. That number is high – due to Westbrook scoring 47 in a 130-114 loss at home!
George will have a good season. Westbrook will continue to put his killer instinct on display night in and night out. The Thunder will finish somewhere in the middle of the pack by playoff time next season.
But Golden State will remain Kings of the West – and quite possibly Kings of the NBA.
At least until they can no longer afford their roster.