Paul George left Russell Westbrook and the Thunder for Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers with a trade, but why? #NBA #PaulGeorge #Westbrook
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By now we all know that Paul George is a Clipper, that he demanded a trade from the Thunder, that he was unhappy with the Thunder and with Russell Westbrook, but why?
The NBA never stops man, now Russell Westbrook will most likely get traded, but this is now the second time in 3 years that an All-Star, MVP candidate has decided to leave Russ. Paul George demanded a trade instantly after Kawhi asked him to join him. This also comes just one year after Paul George decided to resign with the Thunder and always saying he loves Russ. And then he probably saw this throughout the season. So I wanted to break all this down and get to the bottom of why NBA stars don’t want to play with Westbrook.
While Paul George’s usage rate dropped from 28.7 to 24.8 which was to be expected, Russ’s also dropped from the ridiculous 40% in his MVP season to 32.6% in 2017-18 which was still the second highest in the league. That season was filled with weird adjustments, from Russell Westbrook trying hard to let PG fit in to then taking over again. They were 2nd to last in passes made as a team. But the icing on the cake was the playoffs. Their first round match up was with the Jazz, a team led by a rookie in Donovan Mitchell and while that team was solid, the Thunder were the heavy favorites. Westbrook declared that he was going shut that stuff off next game after Rubio had a triple double in Game 3, but Westbrook became uber-aggressive in Game 4 and had 4 fouls before the half. He had to be way less aggressive in the second half, hurting his game. While Rubio was a plus 22, Westbrook was a minus 14 even if Westbrook dropped 23 and 14 rebounds. The But even with all this happening, even with the disappointing season, and this disappointing playoffs series, Paul George decided to resign for 4 years, not even taking a meeting with the Lakers where he had originally wanted to go to. Paul George said Westbrook and him had unfinished business. Westbrook was the main reason why Paul George decided to stay and I’m sure Westbrook is a really good person and teammates must love him.
Russell Westbrook just had his best regular season in the Paul George era, so basically this was better than the year before. Westbrook shot a worse field goal percentage, worse from 3, worst from free throw. But there was one thing that Russ definitely worked on, and that was being more of a floor general. More importantly, Paul George’s usage rate increased to 28.7. There were more times this season that Russ gave the ball up to PG and let PG operate, especially when he was hot. Russell Westbrook led the league again in pass to assist ratio, beating out James Harden for how many off his passes are assists. The Thunder finished the season 49-34 which was only one game better than last year, but what really mattered was the playoffs. After all that had happened last year, you would think Russ might keep his emotions in check or at least know how to use them to his advantage. Throughout all of Game 3, Russell Westbrook was celebrating in the face of Damian Lillard. That was contagious as his teammates got in on the action. Damian dropped 50 in that Game 5 and if you read some his comments like telling Westbrook to stop running from this whooping or how he was amused by the celebration, you can tell that Dame was motivated by Westbrook’s antics. But that is who Russell Westbrook is in his core.
But let’s just push all the basketball talent to the side for the moment and let’s shift to Kawhi Leonard. While Kawhi Leonard is super-competitive, he is probably the opposite on court personality that Westbrook is. Kawhi’s still a fun guy, but his composure and calmness in the biggest moments is special. And that bleeds into his teammate. It allowed the Raptors to focus more on the game of basketball.
So like I said, forget that Westbrook’s game doesn’t fit the modern NBA. Paul George saw that two years in a row, Westbrook’s personality detrimentally affected the team. If the core was with Westbrook, the issue would still persist. Despite Russ being this great guy, his refusal to change himself for the betterment of the team is why pairing up with a low-key guy like Kawhi so appealing. This might be a wake-up call and Russ could adjust, but unless Russ dramatically changes, Paul George and the Thunder were destined to be a playoffs team and nothing more. But what do you think? Where will Russell Westbrook go because he’s probably getting traded? How will PG and Kawhi work?