Over the summer, Paul George made the decision to stay in OKC and many people criticized the move. Fast-forward six months, and it’s looking like it was the best decision PG could’ve made.
PG is having a career year in many different categories. So far, his season averages are all tied or above previous career highs in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game (tied), steals per game, blocks per game (tied), and effective field goal percentage. When you take a deeper look at his more advanced metrics as well, PG is on pace to set career highs in PER and win shares per 48 minutes while putting up his second best effort of his career in true shooting percentage.
When you look at the other MVP candidates, it’s clear that PG isn’t quite to that level yet, but he’s trending in that direction.
Giannis is still the frontrunner (in my opinion) with James Harden right there as well. When you compare Giannis’ and PG’s seasons, they’re fairly similar, although there’s still a decent bit of separation. (All Stats via Basketball Reference)
So as you can tell, in the traditional stats, Giannis still does more for his team, and he also has the Bucks (somewhat) surprisingly in the top spot in the Eastern Conference. One metric (while certainly not the only one) that I like to use to gauge how a player impacts his team is net rating. Both Giannis and PG are second and fourth in the NBA in net rating for players who play at least 33 minutes per game and have played in a minimum of 30 games.
Giannis has a 111.5 offensive rating and a 100.4 defensive rating to make his net rating 11.1. PG, on the other hand, is sitting at a 109.5 and 99.6 rating with his net being 9.9. So both have been exceptional this season on both ends of the floor.
Thursday night, James Harden made his case to be back in the conversation after a monster triple-double effort to beat the Golden State Warriors. Kawhi Leonard also deserves some recognition as well with how well he has played in Toronto this season.
Will Paul George win the MVP this season? Probably not, but PG is a major reason why the Thunder are third in the West and contending for the top spot in the conference. If you’re OKC, I think you’re feeling pretty good about having two MVP candidates on your squad. Right now, PG deserves that recognition.