LOS ANGELES — Paul George has reversed the effects of his offseason workout change.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star spent much of the summer trying to bulk up more than usual. He entered training camp this season at 234 pounds, heavier than ever before. Now, he's shed some.
George mentioned wanting to drop weight at the end of December so that he could “run with [Russell Westbrook],” someone who he’s joked about tangles up teammates’ feet because he moves so quickly in transition. The Thunder forward has lost seven pounds since, and he says it's made a noticeable difference.
“I’m a lot lighter. I can move. I can get up a little better. It’s just, it’s easier,” he said.
George has let it show lately.
He threw down on Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia during Tuesday’s blowout victory. The week before, he attempted to sky over Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid to exact revenge on behalf of Westbrook, whom Embiid had slammed on earlier in the game.
George insists his play, of late, is no coincidence. In fact, since he first publicly vowed Dec. 20 to drop poundage, he’s averaged 24.8 points and has bumped his shooting numbers up to 50 percent from the field and an unfathomable 46 percent from 3 on 7.7 attempts per game.
“It’s easier to move up and down the court now than it was to start this year,” he said. “It’s better for me, and I’m lighter on my feet.”
• Injury update: Carmelo Anthony (right ankle sprain) and Russell Westbrook (left ankle sprain) are both questionable for Thursday's game at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony did not return to Tuesday’s win over the Warriors after suffering the injury during the first quarter. It's unclear when Westbrook got hurt. The team did not practice Wednesday.
Power forward Patrick Patterson filled in for Anthony on Tuesday, receiving 30 minutes and starting the third quarter in his place. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the Warriors win he did not know who would start in Anthony's place if the 10-time All-Star were unable to go Thursday.
• Lineup change: Thunder wing Josh Huestis received his second career start Tuesday against the Warriors. Though Donovan has not announced what he might do about the starting lineup against the Lakers, he explained that his reasoning behind giving Huestis a shot was matchup-based.
“Josh is a guy that’s got some length and size, and obviously, with [the Warriors’] wings, they’ve got size and length,” he said. “So, I was happy for Josh. I thought he did a good job. I thought he played a good game. I thought he played within himself.”
Huestis scored six points and pulled down five rebounds over 25 minutes Tuesday. Rookie wing Terrance Ferguson had started the first five games following Andre Roberson’s season-ending knee injury.
• Franchise value: Forbes has ranked the Thunder as the NBA’s 18th-most valuable team in its annual franchise valuations. The listing knocks the Thunder down one spot from a season ago. However, OKC followed a trend around the league: franchise estimates are rising.
Forbes valued the Thunder at 1.03 billion last year but bumped them to a $1.25 billion estimate in Wednesday’s rankings. The Thunder also earned $225 million in revenue, according to Forbes, compared to $187 million last year.
The New York Knicks came in at the NBA’s most valuable franchise at $3.6 billion. The Los Angeles Lakers ($3.3 billion), Golden State Warriors ($3.1 billion), Chicago Bulls (2.6 billion) and Boston Celtics (2.5 billion) rounded out the top five.
Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the postgame show, Thunder After Dark, and the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.