Yes, it’s still early in the season. But Paul George’s career year hasn’t been lost on Oklahoma City Thunder fans.
“M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” they chanted at the small forward after his 31 points on eight-of-10 shooting (including five of six from three-point range) led the Thunder past the Utah Jazz 122-113 on Dec. 10 for their 17th win in their first 25 games.
On the season, the Thunder have been at or near the top of the Northwest Division and the Western Conference and the 28-year-old product of Fresno State has been a big reason why. At this writing, he was leading Oklahoma City with a 24.3 points per game average, while also racking up career highs in rebounds (7.8), assists (4.3), steals (2.2) and blocks (0.8). And he’s been the best defensive player on the team with the NBA’s best defense.
But say the M-word to the five-time All-Star and he’ll insist he’s not out for personal awards.
“My job is to give everything I have, play as hard as I can and just try to win as much as possible,” he was quoted as saying. “If that makes me MVP, then so be it.”
This from a guy who only four years ago suffered a scary compound fracture of his right leg that left his career in doubt.
George and the Thunder can be seen in action on the road twice this week on ESPN: Wednesday, Jan. 2, against the Los Angeles Lakers and Friday, Jan. 4, versus the Portland Trail Blazers.
Full name: Paul Clifton Anthony George
Born: May 2, 1990
Birthplace: Palmdale, Calif.
Height/weight: 6 feet, 9 inches/220 pounds
Teams: Indiana Pacers (2010-17), Oklahoma City Thunder (2017-present)
College: Fresno State
Draft: Taken in the first round (10th overall) by the Pacers in 2010
Position: small forward
Honors and Achievements: five-time NBA All-Star (2013, 2014, 2016-18); NBA All-Defensive Team (2014); two-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2013, 2016); NBA Most Improved Player (2013); NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2011)