While Paul George has had one hell of year, boasting career highs in almost every single statistical category, since the All-Star break, he’s started to look more like Playoff P from last year as opposed to MVPG.
Given his recent stretch of bad games where he’s shot 8-25, 7-23, and 5-16, it should come as no surprise that he’s frustrated. However, despite a bevy of what could be described as bad calls and non-calls, in the Blazers game on Thursday (3/7) where he shot 7-23, he stated that while he ‘planned’ on criticizing the refs, after realizing he shot 20 free throws he was alright with it. But should he really?
The officiating was bad, laughably bad to the point where even 20 free throws and the win didn’t justify how egregious it was. Yes, officials make mistakes, and that’s fine, but when they are consistently inconsistent with what they decide to call, that’s when it becomes an issue.
Since last season, the Thunder have consistently been one of the teams most disadvantaged by the referees. This just happened to be one instance where it just happened to work in our favor whereas many other games earlier in the season included a stream of extremely questionable calls down the stretch in close games.
That being said, as a veteran and fringe superstar, George should understand that he needs to adjust. In a system where referees have absolute authority throughout the course of a game, yelling at them isn’t going to change much. In fact, it arguably makes them more likely to either not call anything in your favor or to increase calls against you.
Despite the fact that the referees have been bad, it can’t all be on them. Since returning from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for a few games, he’s been hesitant to attack the basket, and instead, is consistently settling for contested 3s outside the arc. He’s also cutting less and seemingly wants to get rid of the ball as fast as possible every time he has it.
While officiating has objectively been terrible recently, his play hasn’t been anything to write home about either and he’ll need to step it up, even if he isn’t getting the call. Still, in their recent game against the Clippers, I’m glad that he called out the referees over their shoddy officiating which seems to disadvantage the Thunder much more so than others.