As the NBA season is heading into the final stretch, the MVP conversation is heating up. James Harden is shooting out the roof while Giannis Antetokounmpo is busy making highlight reels. Above all that, Paul George is the dark horse of the MVP race, who is having the best season thus far in his career. With the way PG-13 has been upping his game, here are the reasons why he will be crowned MVP.
Why Paul George Will Be Crowned MVP
Real Plus/Minus or RPM for short is a player’s average impact in terms of point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possessions. According to ESPN’s RPM Leaderboard, Paul George is at the top of the board with an RPM of 8.44. Meanwhile, James Harden comes in second with an RPM of 7.88. The Greek Freak is currently fifth with an RPM of 6.14. Over the last 13 games, George has averaged 35.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. All while shooting 48 percent from the field and 46 percent from three. During this stretch, the Oklahoma City Thunder has gone 11-2 with the league’s fourth-best net rating.
Rebranding Thunder’s Identity
Hierarchy is not an issue for Oklahoma City, as winning has that effect. Russell Westbrook has been the unquestionable, loyal face of the franchise since Kevin Durant’s departure. To some surprise, he has taken a back seat a little this season for Paul George, a player that he convinced to stay.
Russ is still being Russ—scoring triples double here and there—but he’s playing in a way that allows George to be his best. Compared to last season, George looks more comfortable with Westbrook and the rest of the team. Dominantly taking the reins of an offense that’s reminiscent of his days as an Indiana Pacer. George is making more shots, playing more minutes, and scoring more points. As a result, this cohesion not only brings out the best in George, it brings out the best in the Thunder as a whole: they are currently in third place in the West at 37-20, winning 11 of their last 13 games.
Attractive MVP Narrative
Yes, you need a pretty looking box-score to be considered MVP. Yes, your team needs some success and a decent record from your contributions to be considered MVP. However, the narrative is vital when it comes to determining the MVP: what makes this player special and how can that be proven? When it comes to Paul George’s narrative, it makes him a convincing case for MVP:
- He’s never been a true MVP contender before; Voters like new faces.
- After an underwhelming first season in OKC, he has bounced back tremendously on both ends of the ball.
- After suffering that horrific leg injury playing for Team USA in 2014, he has become better than ever; better than what most thought.
Paul George is everything you could want in an MVP candidate. It’s the trials and tribulations that nearly every player goes through and growth that makes them the league’s most valuable player.
When making the case for why certain NBA players should be MVP candidates, it’s definitely not rocket science. With Giannis Antetokoumpo, it’s simple. He’s the best player on his team and has been for the past few years. His stats are ridiculous and highlight reel is bananas.
On the other hand, James Harden’s 30 point plus scoring shootouts have not only kept fans entertained, but has kept the Houston Rockets in a decent position in the Western Conference despite the load of injuries across the roster.
What sets George apart from his competition are his stats that arguably makes him the best 2-way player available. He is putting up career numbers offensively—averaging 28.7 points, shooting 45 percent from the field—and defensively—leads the league in steals (128) and loose balls recovered per game. Essentially, he makes his team a lot better. The Thunder have a minus 11.2 net rating without George on the floor, but that mark climbs to plus 10.4 and when he plays, a 21.6 point increase. George’s next-level style of play makes him a wise candidate for the MVP.
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