With the NBA All-Star rosters released this week, only one of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s big three was named to the Western Conference team. Deservedly so, Thunder point guard and defending NBA MVP Russell Westbrook was the only Oklahoma City player to be named to the roster. The one name left off the list that caught the eye of NBA fans was small forward Paul George.
George was beat out by Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and Klay Thompson if compared by position. But the most blasphemous choice over George was Portland Trail Blazer’s point guard Damian Lillard. George is clearly having a better season than Lillard and the Thunder are way ahead of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference standings. Players on the best teams should be rewarded because they are a huge reason why that team is so successful.
George, 27, is having arguably the best season of his career. While his 20.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this season are down from last year, George is top ten in the NBA in steals per game (2.1), three pointers (136) and defensive wins shared (2.5). Both the 2.1 steals per game and his 3.1 three pointers per game are career highs.
Not only are the those statistics career highs for George, they are also the best marks on the entire Oklahoma City roster. The 6-foot-9-inch forward leads the team in various other categories, including averaged minutes per game (36.4) and three-point percentage (43.6%), and is top three on the team in field goals made per game (7.1), free-throw percentage (80.9%), defensive rebounds per game (4.8), assists per game (3.0) and point per game (20.9).
Now, lets jump into some of the analytics stack up. George is currently boasting the second-best player efficiency rating of his career at 20.2. For those of you that don’t know, player efficiency rating (PER) is a measure of per-minute production standardized such that the league average is 15. George’s PER mark is 34 percent better than the league average this season. This stat includes both the efficiency of a player on the offensive and defensive side of the court.
Defensively, George is one of the league’s best wing defenders. For his career, he has posted a 101.0 defensive rating, which is fourth among active players in the league. Whether it is LeBron James or Kevin Durant, George has the ability to lock down some of the best wing scorers in the NBA.
While being a defensive player isn’t one of the most desirable pick for an All-Star — especially with the focus of the NBA All-Star game leaning more towards the entertainment component — George outperformed many of the players in this year’s All-Star game in the 2016 All-Star game. In the 196-173 win over the Western Conference, George led the East with 41 points, including nine three-pointers. If the NBA and its fans are looking for the most entertaining players, George should have definitely been included in the Western Conference’s roster.
It is time for the NBA to get rid of the conference selection process. Now that the actual game will include mixed teams, the process should also be mixed. While there is an argument that George wasn’t one of the best 12 players in the Western Conference, there is no argument to be said that he isn’t one of the best 24 players in the NBA. The NBA All-Star selection process is a joke.
Whether you use the eye test or take a look at the statistics, Paul George clearly should be an All-Star in the Western Conference.