Paul George's enigmatic offensive game is proving difficult for Thunder head coach Billy Donovan to wrap his head around. "At times he's like, 'Stop—just let me get it,'" Donovan told ESPN's Royce Young for his Friday feature on the Thunder's second star. "I had to learn him. I can watch things on film and say, 'Oh, that's a good play and he made that shot, let's run that,' but there's a lot more to it than that."
George went to Donovan and asked him to stop running plays for him a couple of weeks into last season. That's before PG-13 surprisingly agreed to re-sign with Oklahoma City for another three guaranteed years and a possible fourth, all while not even meeting with his hometown team, the Lakers. So, Donovan listened intently, even if it flies in the face of the perceived roles of NBA superstars.
But George's mentality about the game is cut from a different cloth. "I've always been a guy to just let the game come to me. Just play the game," George tells Young. "If it's a shot for me, if I can make a play, create for someone else, I'll do that. A lot of times you run a play, everybody's watching, everybody's locked in, everybody's pulling over and it just makes the game tougher for me.
"I like it when I can kind of manipulate and be on attack mode where they don't know what to do, as opposed to a play other teams [can] scout."
The rest of the feature explores signs of George's growing confidence, perhaps inspired by Russell Westbrook's own deferment. Take for instance, that game-winning shot against the Nets, which gave him a Thunder record, 25 points, in the final frame of the comeback win.
Russ poured water bottles on his teammate's head during his the post-game interview, and it's clear Westbrook's self-confidence now extends to his Thunder teammate. PG's new-found feeling of comfort and trust from his MVP teammate has translated to one of the best seasons of his career.
"I know who I am. [Perception] doesn't make me who I am," George said. "I just try to step on that floor and try to play as hard as I can. I have a goal to be the best player every time I touch that floor. Just be the best me."