We only have 20 games left in the 2021-22 NBA season, but the frontrunners for the Player of the Year put up a claim for the award early on.
Stephen Curry’s flash hit sent the Golden State Warriors to the top of the league with an 18-2 record, while DeMar DeRozan was enjoying a career year in Chicago as the Bulls cemented themselves as one of the strongest teams at the Conference East. .
Below the list, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is having another stat-boosting season, while two-time winner Giannis Antetokounmpo tops them all.
That group of four was the headliner of the original contenders, but there was one man who was quietly running his business and worthy of having his name along with them.
LA Clippers star Paul George.
The Clippers entered the season with major doubts after Kawhi Leonard had an off-season meniscus surgery that knocked the final MVP out twice in a long time.
With Paul George carrying the team in the playoffs last season, many questioned whether he could do it for much of the season. With the ball in hand being the obvious first choice when it comes to attack, the 31-year-old is currently having his best season since he finished third in the 2018-19 season MVP poll with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Paul George’s stats four seasons ago (NBA.com/Stats)
In Leonard’s absence, George was in complete control of the Clippers’ offense, at the height of his career. Usage rate 33.7 percent, the second-highest in the league behind only Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.
In addition to his ability to score, George has also impacted attack with improved play that creates an easy look for role players such as Terance Mann, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein, who have flourished under his guidance.
George currently leads the Clippers in assists at 5.2 per game, marking the best mark of his career from last season.
“We need him to do everything that he’s doing to put us in the position we are in,” Jackson said. “I think he’s playing at the best level and he’s in the best mindset he’s ever had.”
What was perhaps the most surprising part of the Clippers’ 11-9 start to the season, which finished fifth in the Western Conference, was their defense, led by George, who this season looked like a two-man threat. our dominant dimension. came to expect on a nightly basis.
Sandals currently ranked second in defense rating, giving 102.2 points per 100 possession and According to Basketball Reference, George is second in the NBA in Defensive Win Rate behind defending MVP Nikola Jokic.
“PG alone doesn’t have enough credit for the person he is, his teammates, you know how positive he is always and the mother-can play,” said Clippers forward Marcus Morris. “I’ve never played against a guy or with a smooth player in his game 6-9, 6-8, who could do what he does.
“He deserves this opportunity to be mentioned among great players, and I just feel like he’s always been left out. I do not know what it is “.
George’s value to the Clippers at both ends of the floor only strengthens his MVP case, especially doing so without their No. 1 pick in Kawhi Leonard.
While he may not have received the plaudits yet, there’s no denying George’s value to his team.