Oklahoma City Thunder: 3 Goals for Paul George in 2018-19

Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder, Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs
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Play Considerable Minutes as a Mismatch Small-Ball Four

In the vast majority of lineups, George is on the wing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. For 81 percent of his possessions last season, he lined up at the 3, per Basketball-Reference. The other 19 percent consisted of PG playing the 2; Anthony was mostly lined up at the 4 position. He was there 90 percent of the time, and 10 percent of the time at he played center, per Basketball Reference.

Anthony has always been a player in the mid-post area, with a very effective fadeaway, and one-dribble pull-up that enables him to get to the free throw line. He doesn’t have the athleticism at the rim and vision of George as a playmaker anymore, though.

If George can log some minutes at the 4, he should be able to draw some more mismatches via switchouts after screens set by Nerlens Noel and Adams to draw 5’s, and get some easy mid-range looks and straight-line drives. This was a favorable matchup, as George showcased a quality blow-by counter with a series of post fakes against Montrezl Harrell.

Patrick Patterson is a capable catch-and-shoot 3, Jerami Grant can play above the rim on the wing, Roberson is a defensive ace at the 2 position, and Westbrook/Schröder can stagger some minutes at the lead guard. Being a small-ball four will enable George to dictate to the defense more, as he’ll at times also draw smaller defenders playing out of position he can shoot over or force double-teams.

Back in 2015-16 with Indiana, he played the 4 on 39 percent of possessions. That may have played a part in him having the best PER (20.9), Free Throw Rate (36.4 percent) and Offensive Box Plus-Minus (3.5) of his career. In the postseason, this could be a nice secondary wrinkle for the Thunder that head coach Billy Donovan should utilize.

On the defensive end, I challenge George to return to First-Team All-NBA form.

Next Up: Goal 3

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