The Los Angeles Clippers continued their hot stretch Tuesday night, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-117. The matchup featured OKC star Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and L.A. star Paul George clashing against their former teams.
In the summer of 2019, the teams shocked the NBA world when the Clippers sent seven first-round picks, Danilo Gallinari and Gilgeous-Alexander to Oklahoma City for George.
After Los Angeles’ win, George weighed in on the trade, saying, “Both sides won.”
“I think, initially when that trade happened, no one saw [he’d be that good],” George said of SGA. “We knew Shai was going to be really, really good, but he’s special. And so, I guess, in a way, Oklahoma won that trade with picks and a future MVP. So again, great trade for both sides.”
But was it really a great trade for both teams? That verdict is still to be determined.
The true measure for Los Angeles in the Kawhi Leonard and George era hinges on capturing the franchise’s first NBA title. Without one, Oklahoma City stands to emerge as the runaway victors of the epic deal.
Already, the Thunder have capitalized with one of their first-round picks from the Clippers, shooting guard Jalen Williams, who finished second in Rookie of the Year voting last season. He is a rising star, averaging 18.6 points with a true shooting percentage of 63.6 percent, an exceptionally high clip for a 22-year-old guard.
Only 25, Gilgeous-Alexander is making a compelling case as a better player than George at his peak. He has been outstanding this season, averaging 31 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists.
George, meanwhile, has never averaged 30 points for a season. Gilgeous-Alexander is doing it back-to-back seasons. He also leads the league in steals, averaging 2.3 per game, further solidifying his status as one of the NBA’s premier talents.
Conversely, George is averaging 23.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists. While he remains an All-NBA-level talent, he is in his 14th season. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City (27-13) has four first-round picks remaining from its trade with the Clippers and could be a powerhouse for years to come.