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The Man With Two First Names: The MVP Case for Paul George

People might call him PG13, but the way he plays is definitely rated R. Three-point bombs from the parking lot, ferocious finishes and disgusting defense highlight this two-way player’s impressive game. George is having a career year with the Thunder this season. Through 55 games, PG13 is putting up 28.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and a league-leading 2.3 steals per game. While George’s impressive play may ultimately be overshadowed by James Harden’s ridiculous offensive prowess and the Greek Freak’s absurd all-around play, he is arguably the best two-way player in the game this season, and his accomplishments deserve some recognition.

PG13’s Scoring

Although there’s still plenty of time in the season, the main arguments that exist against “MVPG” are that while he’s great at a lot of things and is at the top of the list for many stats, he doesn’t lead the league in any offensive categories.

George is currently third in points per game this season and second in total points. He’s made the third most threes in the league, and although he ranks 18th in three-point percentage, he takes and makes more threes per game than everyone ahead of him save for Steph Curry. On top of that, shooting 41.3% from deep is nothing to sneeze at, it’s straight up elite. PG13 is also sixth in FTM this year, and he owns an impressive, far above average 60.1 TS% for the year.

Despite George’s prior poor reputation in the clutch (much to the enjoyment of proponents of the “No OT Tonight” meme), he’s been impressive in late game situations this season. In the clutch this year (defined as the last five minutes of a game with a five-point or less differential), he ranks third in clutch free throws made, seventh in clutch time points, and eighth in clutch time threes. He even has a game-winner earlier this season against the Brooklyn Nets. George’s play late in the fourth quarter has ensured that there would, in fact, be “No OT Tonight” for the Thunder this season, and more often than not, OKC comes out on top in tight contests.

PG’s Advanced Offensive Statistics 

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Paul George ranks 3rd in points per game this season, and he’s been absolutely elite offensively. Photo Courtesy of Tony Dejak/AP Photo

Even though Paul George ranks third in the NBA in scoring, he’s just 17th in usage percentage (USG%). In fact, his own teammate, Russell Westbrook ranks higher than him in USG% at ninth in the league, which makes George’s point and assist totals all the more impressive. George also ranks at or near the top in a multitude of offensive statistics.

He’s first in real plus-minus (RPM) wins, which estimates the number of wins a player has contributed to his team’s win total, and he’s second in real plus-minus (RPM), which measures a player’s on-court impact. George is also fourth in offensive win shares (OWS), fifth in value over replacement player (VORP) and fifth in offensive RPM. In other words, the value he adds to his team’s offense is tremendous. The main stat to note is that he’s first in RPM wins, which includes a player’s offensive and defensive impact. Although George doesn’t lead the league in any offensive statistics, his tremendous offensive value, combined with his defensive aptitude make him truly impressive.

George’s Defense 

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PG13 leads the league in numerous defensive categories, and he’s made a great case for DPOY thus far. Photo courtesy of Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman

Right now, George leads the league in steals per game, total steals and total steals in the clutch. He also recovers the most loose-balls per game of any NBA player, and deflects the second most passes per game. George’s ability to put the ball in the basket, and stop his opponents in their tracks in crunch time is a major reason why the Thunder are the currently the third seed in the West.

George is also fourth in defensive win shares, tenth in DRTG, and 11th in defensive real plus-minus. While the latter rankings may not sound impressive, when compared to his main competition, his average offensive and defensive rankings in various advance stats stack up well.

George Against the Competition

The table below compares various advanced metrics to see how valuable the top MVP candidates are on both ends of the floor. For some statistics, information was only available for a certain number of top players. For example, if a player did not make the top 20, then their average ranking was calculated as if they were ranked 21st, and they were listed as “≥” to that average ranking.

Admittedly, a lot of the chosen statistics skew in favor of George. The chosen metrics do however illustrate how valuable PG13 is on both ends of the floor. Overall, when looking at the whole picture, both James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo likely have the edge on George as of today. The point of this article, however, is to show that Paul George has a far better case than some may think.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and ESPN

Featured image courtesy of Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

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1 comment

2019 Defensive Player of the Year Candidates so Far • The Game Haus February 15, 2019 at 8:35 am

[…] George could potentially walk away with two awards at the end of the year. Not only is he making a strong case for MVP, but George’s defense also makes him a DPOY […]


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