Every year NBA fans scream about All-Star snubs. Sometimes players scream about their snubs too. One player who shouldn’t have anything to cry about this year is Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George. Last year’s MVP finalist did not make the team, and Clippers fans were outraged at the result.
The fans might be happy, but let’s go over why it was the right choice, and how the Clippers can benefit from it come playoff time.
Paul George arrives in Los Angeles
For the Clippers to make their dynamic power move to land Kawhi Leonard, they needed to add a teammate to join him in Los Angeles. Paul George seemed to be the perfect fit, as the OKC Thunder weren’t going far with him and Russell Westbrook leading the team.
The Clippers gave up several first-round picks and players to land the six-time All-Star. So far, when George has been on the floor, he’s played really well, averaging 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists per game. The issue has been the amount of time he has been on the floor.
Injuries and load management
Heading into the All-Star break, Paul George had started in all 34 of his appearances for the Clippers. However, he had also missed 21 games due to injury rehab or load management. While his stats aren’t up to his MVP level from last season, when he is in the lineup, the team is 23-11.
The Clippers’ medical staff as a whole is working on making a deep run into the playoffs, and they can’t do that if George or Leonard (last year’s NBA Finals MVP with the Raptors) miss time down the home stretch with nagging injuries.
Why George’s his snub is warranted
Missing almost half of your team’s games is a clear reason to miss out on the All-Star game. When you look at the two players most likely to get in over George, Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) and Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), his numbers pale in comparison. In his fourth season in the league (first with the Pelicans), Ingram has become a star in that offense.
Zion Williamson recently debuted, but for most of the year, the offense has run through Ingram, and he has made the most of it, averaging a career-high 24 points per game, while also shooting 40% from behind the arc in 47 games.
Mitchell has only missed a handful of games for the Jazz and is also a solid choice for his first All-Star selection with a stat line of 24-4-4.
Much like Kyrie Irving out East, the full body of work counts for the coaches and GMs selecting the reserves, and George didn’t have enough to garner a spot on the team.
Looking at the bigger picture
Could this be a blessing in disguise for the Clippers? Everyone knows Kawhi is a team-first player and tries to avoid praise from individual accolades, so could his demeanor rub off on George in this instance? Given his injury history, there’s no doubt the L.A. front office is happy to see George avoid an injury in another exhibition game.
The long term goal is winning a championship and having George and Leonard both at full strength will make the Western Conference playoff race that much easier. The Clippers are currently third in the Western Conference, which means a showdown with the Lakers would likely happen in the Western Conference Finals.
Having arguably the two best perimeter defenders in the NBA on the floor at the same time will make things harder for LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a seven-game series.