Paul George, at Peace in Oklahoma City, Reels In a Career Year

Paul George has a small freshwater pond behind his house in Oklahoma City that he stocks with bass, crappie and bluegill. Whenever he has a couple of hours to spare from his responsibilities as a do-everything forward for the N.B.A.’s Thunder, he heads out back with his fishing rod. He releases what he catches — for now, anyway.

“Waiting for them to get a little bigger,” he said.

George has time. Last summer, on the first night of free agency, he agreed to re-sign with the Thunder on a four-year, $137 million deal. The news emanated from a house party that Russell Westbrook, his superstar teammate, was hosting for George, who did not even entertain meetings with rival teams. He was sticking with the Thunder.

In doing so, George made clear that he was banking on his partnership with Westbrook while offering endorsements of the organization and of Oklahoma City’s leisurely pace. He can fish. He can raise his two young children in a quiet neighborhood. And he can focus on basketball, knowing that his future is with the Thunder.

“You can give your everything to one organization, and you know the direction that you’re going,” George said in a recent interview. “There’s so much that players have to deal with that I don’t think people quite recognize. A lot of them are the same issues that everybody else deals with. But this takes a lot of the burden off my shoulders.”

There is something to be said for (relatively) stress-free living. As several other stars careen toward free agency this summer — and grapple with the accompanying distractions with varying degrees of success — George, 28, has been playing the best basketball of his life.

He is averaging 28.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists, all career highs, while shooting 44 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3-point range. He is at least in the conversation for his first N.B.A. Most Valuable Player Award.

“I think the shift I’ve seen,” Coach Billy Donovan said, “is a guy who’s a lot more comfortable.”

George has been limited recently by shoulder soreness, and Oklahoma City has slipped a bit in the standings. But the Thunder are capable of being a force in the playoffs, and they appear to be a close-knit group. One reason: Oklahoma City is not exactly flush with “extracurriculars,” as George put it, so the players tend to linger at the practice facility. They spend a lot of time together, which has helped build chemistry.

“And if one person has to go do something, there’s always someone else who’s like, ‘I’ll tag along with you,’” George said. “That’s kind of been the culture here.”

George was traded to the Thunder before the start of last season, after he told the Indiana Pacers that he would not sign a contract extension. Most figured that Oklahoma City would be a pit stop for George, who grew up in Palmdale, Calif., about 50 miles north of Los Angeles. More to the point: He had told the Pacers that he wanted to be shipped to the Lakers.

Indiana balked and instead dealt him to Oklahoma City, where George averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. After Oklahoma City lost in the first round of the playoffs, George was a free agent. He could have gone nearly anywhere, including to the Lakers.

“I had so many phone calls and people asking me what he would do when it was all still up in the air,” Tom Hegre, his former coach at Knight High School, said in a telephone interview. “But I personally felt that he would stay with the Thunder. I just didn’t think he would bail on something before he gave it a legitimate chance.”

Hegre also said he suspected that Oklahoma City itself had something to do with George’s decision. Even now, after six All-Star appearances, George is a small-town guy and a self-described “homebody.”

Back in his high school days, George and his father would occasionally ask Hegre if the team was planning to practice over the weekend. Hegre knew that meant they were thinking about going fishing. They had their favorite spots: Hughes Lake, Lake Elsinore, Lopez Lake, Little Rock Reservoir.

“I always thought that was pretty cool,” Hegre said.

George has never played in a major market. Not in high school (Palmdale). Not in college (Fresno State). And not in the N.B.A., which may not be a coincidence. When he was with the Pacers, George lived in a suburban community with a large lake, where he kept a boat. He fished there, too.

At the same time, his exit from Indiana affected him. It was the first time he felt disliked by the masses, and he was someone who had always tried hard to avoid disappointing or hurting people, said Steve Cleveland, his former coach at Fresno State.

When George told Cleveland that he was entering the N.B.A. draft after two seasons at Fresno State, he was apologetic — and so were his parents, who kept apologizing even after George began to star for the Pacers.

“I had to say, ‘Stop it,’” Cleveland said. “But that’s the type of people they are.”

He added: “I’ve never really asked him this, but I’m sure leaving Indiana was a pretty sensitive deal for him. And I don’t think he wanted to go through all that stress again.”

It is not hard to find big-time players who have come unglued at times because of their impending free agencies. Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors boycotted the news media for a couple of weeks. Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics has complained about the steep price of celebrity. For his part, George blamed “the press” for being a disruptive force in locker rooms.

“Everything gets blown up,” he said. “Everything is a big deal.”

It is no small feat, then, that George has found a home with the Thunder — and calm waters in Oklahoma City.