Paul George's trade to Oklahoma City makes both the Thunder and the NBA better -- and it makes for a more compelling Western Conference -- but its impact isn't as positive on the fantasy side of things.
George gives the Thunder a dynamic second superstar to pair alongside Russell Westbrook, a necessity by today's NBA standards and something OKC glaringly missed last season when Kevin Durant left for Golden State.
We know how the rest of that story played out.
Westbrook went on to have a historic MVP season, serving as somewhat of a one-man offense on his way to 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.5 3-pointers per game -- all career-highs except for the steals. While the Thunder fizzled in the playoffs, unable to hang with a deeper Houston team, Durant put the Warriors on his back on his way to his first NBA title.
Prior to OKC's trade for George, Westbrook was in position to be in a tier of his own atop the fantasy rankings. His closest competitor for the top spot, James Harden, saw his fantasy value take a big hit earlier in the week when the Rockets traded for a second superstar of their own, Chris Paul.
With George in the fold, though, this closes the gap considerably, and while Westbrook remains the top-ranked fantasy player heading into next season, he's in the same tier as guys like Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Don't expect Westbrook to approach his 42.5 percent usage rate from a season ago, and as the usage falls so should any expectations of Westbrook averaging a triple-double for a second year in a row. Look for his 24 field-goal attempts per game to drop closer to 20 and for his scoring to go from 31.6 PPG to somewhere in the high 20s.
As for George, who averaged 18 shots per game last season on his way to a career-best 23.7 PPG, the same concerns are there. We have the rangy forward listed at No. 16 on the ESPN fantasy rankings, right between Isaiah Thomas (No. 15) and Jimmy Butler (No. 17), and though the trade doesn't change his ranking it does change the way we think about George.
Remember, we're talking about a player who was asked the lead a Pacers offense that had secondary contributors like Jeff Teague and Myles Turner. Even as the lead dog, George's shot attempts and scoring average weren't exactly off the charts.
Now he won't be sharing the ball with Teague and Turner but Westbrook, the game's leading scorer from last season and a player who dominates the ball.
Some people will jump to the conclusion that George will be better in OKC playing with another star, but don't be so sure of that on the fantasy side.
Victor Oladipo is the third part of this deal worth mentioning, because he's a young scorer and secondary rebounder and distributor who also makes 3s (1.9 per game last season) and racks up steals (1.5 per game for his career). He returns to Indiana, where he's beloved for his college days with the Hoosiers, and will have an opportunity to possibly see his minutes rise from 33.2 he averaged in his lone season in OKC.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard will also be a bigger part of the offense in Indiana than he was with the Thunder, and don't be surprised if he averages 15 field-goal attempts and 18 points per game while playing for Nate McMillan and the Pacers in 2017-18.