Back in early July, the Oklahoma City Thunder swung one of the biggest Blockbuster trades in recent NBA history when they acquired Paul George from the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. At the time, OKC was viewed as the far and away winners of the deal. Critics were aghast: “That’s all Indiana got for George?”

To be fair, since that trade, Oladipo has become a dynamic playmaker and just made his first All Star team, while Sabonis is proving to be a solid role player and stretch four. Paul George, meanwhile, has thrived as well, despite not making the All Star team in the West this season.

Analysts and skeptics with the intellectual depth of shallow puddle would tell you that this is a clear indicator that Indiana in fact won the trade. I mean, Oladipo did make the All Star team and George didn’t, right?

Never mind the fact that Oladipo did it in the Eastern Conference, where the depth of talent is nowhere near as rich as the Western Conference; never mind the fact that countless All Stars in the East last year, George included, migrated to the Western Conference this past offseason, whether by means of trade or free agency. In fact, the only All Star to go from West to East was Gordon Hayward, whose gruesome ankle injury on opening night ended his season and thus left the Eastern All Star talent even more shallow.

So why does this matter with regards to Paul George? Simple. When George was snubbed, despite averaging close to 21 points and 41.7% from 3. In addition, he’s leading the league in steals and anchoring the third best defensive team in the league. That’s while sharing the court with a walking triple-double in Russell Westbrook and a human shot-taking-factory in Carmelo Anthony.

With regard to being a two-way player, George has been about as good as it gets this season. All the same he was snubbed in the All Star game in favor of players like Draymond Green. Enter Russell Westbrook:

Speaking to reporters after OKC’s 109-108 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets this past week, Westbrook called George’s exclusion from the exhibition, “ridiculous.” Pulling no punches, Westbrook made most of his statement in defense of George as a teammate and player, and the gesture was clearly not lost on George.

Said George in a recent interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN:

Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even omre easier to make, is the character Russ [has]. A stand up guy, and he has his teammate’s back. We were actually joking before he went up there and I’m like ‘Nah, Russ, man, just let it go. Let it go, Russ. It is what it is. I wasn’t picked,’ and he was like, “nah, man, P. That’s messed up. I’m gonna tell them something about that. It was awesome for a teammate to have your back and to stand up. And to be honest, he should be a starter. he’s been the MVP, been the best player at his position. He should’ve been a starter. but that’s another story. But the fact Russ had my back, that’s my guy forever, and it’s more apparent what this decision needs to be made when it comes down to it.

To may around the league, both fans and analysts alike, George to LA to sign with his hometown Lakers has long since been a foregone conclusion, but many within the OKC front office are adamant that they envision and believe Paul shares in their vision for a long future together.

George has almost seamlessly fit alongside the reigning MVP, establishing himself as one of the league’s best two-way players, while holding open that championship window many believed forever gone following the departure of Kevin Durant one year earlier.

Whether George ends up resigning with the Thunder remains to be seen, but they have a few more months to try and convince him further that their vision and roster is capable of winning a championship. From the sounds of it, George may now be leaning toward staying in the Sooner state.

Darreck W. Kirby

Founder of The Dallas Prospect, Darreck took a love for writing, analysis, and sports and brought them together in one site. Whether tracking the latest Cowboys stats and trends or breaking down film analysis for the latest flick, Darreck does it all.