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Paul George Enters NBA MVP Top 10

Paul George
Paul George has emerged as an MVP candidate this season with the Thunder. Photo by Brenda Staples Photography (flickr) [CC License]
  • Paul George has jumped into the NBA MVP conversation
  • Is it worth wagering on a long shot victory?
  • We pick the NBA MVP near the midway point of the season

When he signed his mammoth four-year extension with the Thunder in the opening hours of free agency, many wondered what Paul George was thinking.

He didn’t visit with any other teams – including the Lakers, who were considered favorites to sign the All-Star wing back in his hometown – and he was anchoring his ship next to Russell Westbrook, deemed the most unfriendly teammate any star would want to play with.

Fast forward to present day, and George is now in a conversation few thought he’d be in: the MVP battle.

The Thunder swingman has seen his average odds improve from +9800 on December 18th, to +3400 on January 2, and he’s now firmly in the top 10 in our updated 2019 NBA MVP Odds Tracker.

2019 NBA MVP Odds

Player 2019 NBA MVP Odds at 5Dimes (01/02/19)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) +180
James Harden (Rockets) +450
LeBron James (Lakers) +525
Kawhi Leonard (Raptors) +700
Steph Curry (Warriors) +850

Let’s have a look at what’s fuelled this 28-year-old’s sudden surge, and see if this momentum can carry to a real shot at MVP.

Injuries Forced George into Lead Role

With Westbrook battling injuries early on in the season, George had the opportunity to step into the spotlight when Russ went down for a six game stretch.

PG helped the Thunder do something they could never do without the 2017 MVP: succeed. OKC went 5-1 over that span and George averaged 26 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists, shooting 45% from the field and 38% from deep.

Those are basically his numbers for the season, as he’s not only maintained that pace, but continued his torrid play. George has failed to crack 20 points just 11 times this year, while scorching in December.

He put up 47 against Brooklyn, including  the winning bucket, then went absolutely berserk in back to back wins over Sacramento and Utah, scoring 43 points each game.

He’s into the top 10 in scoring (ahead of current MVP favorite Giannis Antetounmpo) while leading the league in steals and defensive win shares. It’s safe to say that right now, there’s no better two way player in basketball than George.

Is it Worth Wagering On George for MVP?

At this point it’s going to take another couple of months at this pace to jump into the conversation. But if you subscribe to the ethos of best player on the best team should get MVP, then the path might be easier if the Thunder could move to the top of the ultra-tough Western Conference.

OKC is just 1.5 games out of top spot, and with a defense that has major staying power and two of the top 10 best players in the NBA leading the offensive side, the Thunder have as good a shot as anyone at claiming that crown.

The MVP race is stiff: James Harden has reminded us just how dominant he can be with the ball in his hands, as he has single handedly carried the corpse of the Rockets back to the top half of the West playoff picture. Of course, LeBron is still LeBron, and, if healthy, you can pencil the Lakers in for 50 wins.

But for now, it’s Giannis’ world. He’s stepping into the superstar spotlight, which is exciting, and he’s bringing as much substance to a style we’ve not quite ever seen on a basketball court.

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