Westbrook has responded by leading the NBA so far with 2.70 steals a night.
Hoops investigation time, at @TheAthletic: A deeper look at Paul George's MVP-caliber campaign, the major shift in how he plays with Russell Westbrook, and why – as last night showed – it might be the X-factor to the Thunder's entire season https://t.co/Mv4TeX849p
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) December 31, 2018
PG is also enjoying the best season of his career, and the OKC Thunder appear poised to be a real threat in the Western Conference.
Per The Athletic:
“I asked Russ at the start of this year if he had an all-Defensive Team (selection) yet, and he said, ‘No,’” George said. “And of course, my answer to that was, ‘Why not?’”
There was a punchline hidden in his personal challenge, of course: Westbrook’s personal mantra, his favorite saying/marketing slogan that denotes fearlessness and a willingness to dream, is ‘Why not?’ It was a light moment, to be sure, but a message had been sent.
“I think (the defensive improvement is) Russ understanding and knowing what he has behind him has given him an aggression to play defensively,” George explained. “He’s just so gifted naturally, and he’s one of the best athletes this game has seen, so we’re a different team when he’s dialed in and he’s on another level defensively. There’s no team that can score on us.
“Whether you can score on me or not, I’m going to give you everything I have and I’m going to make it as hard as possible. And that’s how he approaches it. But I think that’s why our team is so good defensively. Steven (Adams) is the same way. We’re on JG (Jerami Grant) — JG’s the same way. We’re all going to take ownership on having somebody try to score on us.”