I posed the question in the title a week or so ago on Twitter. I didn’t make it a poll, though I should have. Now, its too late to go back. Instead, I have to write a post here about it.
Several of you expressed your indignation over this perceived insult of a question. “How is this even a question bro?” One of my most favorite things about running a blog is when this happens because, unbeknownst to these respondents, there are usually just as many people supporting the opposing viewpoint. And so it actually is a question. And that’s what happened here. Almost as many of you said you’d rather have Paul George than Lebron James. I don’t fall into that category, but I see where the George route has its advantages.
I wrote about one such advantage last week. The greatest player in the world comes with baggage. Daryl Morey would risk having to endure the headache that managing Lebron James inevitably creates. But he wouldn’t face any of those concerns with George. George, on the other hand, gives Houston a longer window. He’s the same age as Harden, and bringing him into the fold keeps Houston in 65 win territory long after Chris Paul slows down. (I’ve written at lengths as to how the baseline for a James Harden led team is 50 wins.)
But a reader raised a fascinating point which I hadn’t before considered or at least, one the implications of which I’ve tried to suppress. One of you said to me on Twitter that if Paul George is the choice, we still have to rely on James Harden. If it’s Lebron, he’s done it before, and we know he can bring it home for us. I feel uncomfortable about the fact that I agree with that statement. I’m going to tread carefully because I know how sensitive some of you get regarding criticism of Harden. But while he didn’t flame out the way he did against San Antonio last season, it’s not inaccurate to state that Harden’s best games in the postseason this year came early on in each series. It was Chris Paul who closed out the Jazz and Chris Paul who pushed Golden State to the brink in Game 5.
I think of Paul George as sort of a very souped up Eric Gordon. His norms are Gordon’s peak offensively and defensively. And we know what the Rockets look like when Eric Gordon plays well. In my mind, Lebron is obviously the prize. But you are pushing 70 wins with George and a resigned Chris Paul. Good choices to have.