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Paul George and Russell Westbrook are here to steal your basketball

There’s more than one way to defend successfully in the NBA. Broadly speaking, a good defense focuses on limiting either the quantity or quality of shots. The Oklahoma City Thunder defense — ranked fourth in the NBA in efficiency — focuses on quantity. OKC’s opponents attempt the fewest shots per game, which means the Thunder rebound well to prevent second opportunities and, crucially, force lots of turnovers:

OKC steals your basketball so you can’t use it to score points. And when they do that, they’ve got space to bolt off in the other direction to score easy points of their own. The chief agents of this piracy are Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Even before Andre Roberson went down, George and Westbrook topped the team leaderboard (and, in some cases, the league leaderboard) in steals, deflections, and loose balls recovered.

It’s not hard to understand how they do that. George has the perfect size and skill set to disrupt would-be ballhandlers and passers — long arms, quick feet, perfect timing. He can pick your pocket without fouling you. He can trail you around any screen. He can pluck a high pass right out of the air.

And while Westbrook isn’t the strongest overall defender, his turnover-forcing efforts are among the best in the NBA. Westbrook has terrific sense for offensive flow at this point in his career, and thus can disrupt it by combining that learned prescience with a super-athletic ability to get his body anywhere he wants it to with more speed and vigor than anyone else on Earth.

Put them side by side and you’ve basically walled off half the court:

Watch the video above for more on OKC’s turnover-forcing prowess, and how that feeds their fast break offense.