Paul George's first season with the Thunder certainly didn't go to plan.
After a much hyped offseason over the prospect of George linking up with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, the problems arrived early and often.
The five-time All Star put up his lowest points per game average since the 2014-15 season as team chemistry issues and injury troubles contributed to a disappointing year for OKC given the level of talent they had on board.
A first round playoff loss to the Jazz was a huge failing considering the additions of George and fellow perennial All Star Carmelo Anthony last summer, and George's own performances were unusually inconsistent.
Westbrook's huge usage rate obviously had something to do with his viciously fluctuating scoring output, but there may have been something else holding him back for the majority of the year.
George revealed to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post at Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas that he'd been suffering from elbow bursitis for almost the entirety of the season.
The condition occurs due to trauma or prolonged pressure on a small sack at the tip of the elbow called the bursa, which fills with fluid, causing pain and limiting movement. The solution to the problem sounds nasty too...
“I had a huge sac, 18 to 20 ounces of blood just sitting in the sac of my elbow, so I had that aspirated,” George said per Bontemps. “I was dealing with that for pretty much the whole season. That was causing a lot of frustration with shooting, and playing. To be able to shoot again, to be able to feel confident in my shot, to not have that on my mind, playing on the court … I’m great going forward.”
That would certainly explain why George seemed to get so hot and cold throughout the year, and it's a surprise he was able to play through it for so long.
George's 21.9 points per game game in underwhelming fashion including five games of single figure scoring, of which one was an atrocious two point showing in an ugly 97-81 loss to the lowly Mavs in which he went just 1-12 from the field.
Other uncharacteristic nights of five points on 1-14 shooting and eight points on 2-17 from the field were interrupted by vintage George performances, including a magical 38 point, 5 assist showing in an impressive 125-105 win against the Warriors in early February.
The former Pacers star also poured in 36 in a win over LeBron James and the Cavs, 42 against the Clippers in mid-November, and 40 in a vital win over the Grizzlies in the last game of the regular season to clinch the four-seed for the Thunder in the crowded Western conference playoff battle.
Prior to that standout showing against Memphis he'd been on a 23 game stretch of shooting under 50% from the field, by far the longest of his career.
His playoff run was again wildly inconsistent though as he dropped 36 and 34 points on 65% and 46% shooting respectively in OKC's two wins over Utah but put up an ugly 18 points on 28.6% from the field in a damaging game two loss. His up and down season was topped off in appropriate fashion when he completely going cold in the series clincher for the Jazz in game six, dropping just five points and going 2-16 from the field.
And, his elbow issue wasn't even the only ailment restricting him; George had a left knee arthroscopic procedure on May 9 in LA.
So, whilst there were clearly a bunch of issues revolving around team chemistry in OKC last year, they never got a truly healthy George for any kind of extended period, and he should bounce back in style this season.
Additionally, Anthony was clearly the major issue with the chemistry, and with the former Knick now gone, Andre Roberson returning to occupy the two-guard spot and the additions of Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel, expect the Thunder and PG to be much improved in 2018.