Writer: Zarvea McArthur
Paul George won’t be leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer. This team was only together for a year, so the team wasn’t used to playing together for starters. That being said, they didn’t have great team chemistry, and on top of that, Carmelo didn’t come into the equation until September. They also lost their starting SG Andre Roberson after rupturing his left patellar tendon early in the season. Another thing is that George was accustomed to the offense running through him whether it pick and rolls to having screens set for him in Indiana. Now he is in OKC where he isn’t a stand-alone star. He has help with Russ, Steven Adams, and Carmelo.
What the Thunder needs to do to be able to get out of the first round and keep George is limit the iso plays like we saw throughout the 2017-18 season. It was ‘give the ball to Russ or Paul and let them run iso and shoot a contested shot.’
So as a solution, the team has to get better chemistry, and Russell Westbrook and Paul George have reportedly gone paintballing together. Another thing that the team needs to do to keep him is have more off the ball movement instead of having them stand around. Billy Donovan needs to integrate some off ball screens to open up shooters and driving lanes, so the shots they take aren’t contested.
Adding some depth would allow the team to keep Russ or PG on the floor to run and initiate the offense on the defensive side of the floor. The Thunder should be fine when Roberson comes back into rotation, giving Russ time to sit. He won’t have to worry about exerting all of his energy on both sides of the court and gassing himself out before the end of the game. The Thunder should integrate these ideas into their pitch to keep Paul George this offseason.