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Oklahoma City Thunder: Paul George vs. Kevin Durant becoming a marquee matchup

by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 7, 2013

Paul George didn't become a starter until the final two months of his rookie season.

Three years later, the Indiana Pacers forward is a superstar.

“He's a special player,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “The term superstar gets thrown around NBA circles quite frequently, but he's a superstar. He's a superstar in this league. There's only a handful of them and he's one of them.”

George's transformation has turned Sunday's showdown with Thunder forward Kevin Durant into a marquee matchup.

The two are the reigning players of the month for November in their respective conferences, top five scorers and early candidates in the MVP race. After winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award last season, George has established himself, in just his fourth season, as one of the game's best players.

At the conclusion of the Thunder's practice Saturday afternoon, there was some chatter about George now being the league's third-best player, presumably behind LeBron James and Durant.

“He can do it all,” Durant said. “I think he's up there with one of the top players in the league because he's elevated his game to new heights.”

In a road game at Portland this past Monday, George posted a career-high 43 points. He made seven 3-pointers, five of which came in the final three minutes and had the league buzzing more about George's continued emergence than the Blazers' four-point win. The day before that, George torched the Clippers, in Los Angeles, for 27 points, six rebounds and five assists.

“I watched him from afar and he's having a phenomenal season this year, just leading those guys,” Durant said. “You can tell he's playing super confident basketball right now.”

If George doesn't quite live up to the hype in his lone appearance in Oklahoma City, it might have something to do with playing on the second night of a back-to-back following Saturday's game at San Antonio and the Pacers closing out a five-game trip.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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