Another poor playoff performance and closeout game lend credence to OKC Thunder winning the Paul George trade.
It’s impossible to forget how the OKC Thunder 2018-19 season ended. Numerous gifs and memes are on hand to recall what has been referenced as ‘the shot’ by Damian Lillard over Paul George.
Dame’s wave goodbye at the Thunder bench and specifically at Russell Westbrook who once yelled ‘he can’t guard me‘ in a game flooded social media. Another gif features Lillard staring directly in the camera nodding while his Portland Trail Blazers teammates dive on top of him in celebration.
At the time it was the third successive first-round oust of the OKC Thunder and while the franchise lost again in round one this season, the circumstances are completely different. This season the Thunder weren’t even expected to make the playoffs. Every key analyst and mainstream media talking head stated OKC wouldn’t be a playoff team and were destined for ‘the tank’.
That the Thunder pushed the Houston Rockets to seven games and was one missed free throw and blocked Lu Dort shot away from playing the Lakers speaks to their overachievement.
OKC Thunder add credence to why they won the Paul George trade
The difference one season can make was punctuated by how well the Thunder performed this season despite losing two superstars and a valuable piece of the core. Ironically, it’s Jerami Grant who is playing in the Western Conference Finals and spent a great deal of time defending Paul George in the LA Clippers – Denver Nuggets series.
Reflecting back to last season, everyone had high hopes for a deep playoff run. With rumors Paul George was headed for LA he shocked everyone by re-signing with the Thunder. What ensued over the summer is the stuff of movie plots.
Kawhi Leonard held three teams at bay as free agency played out. Having won the NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors many assumed he’d return to defend the title but Basketball’s Cyborg had other plans in mind.
Rumors flew as the Lakers, Clippers, and Raptors all vied for Leonard to sign with them. Each day of free agency a new frontrunner emerged coinciding with articles and whispers of Leonard reaching out to other stars seeking their commitment to join him in his home town.