NBA Indiana Pacers

Paul George Earned His First All-Star Appearance

Paul George

Anthony Gruppuso – USA TODAY Sports

No one expected the words Paul George and All-Star would be put together after he went scoreless at Golden State Dec 1. It turns out that game is exactly why Indiana Pacers’ third-year swingman will be in Houston in February.

George was named Thursday evening as an Eastern Conference reserve. It will be George’s first appearance in the All-Star Game.

“This is a great honor, not just for me, but for our coaches, my teammates and the franchise,” said George in a statement. “To be selected by the coaches adds something to being an All-Star. But this doesn’t happen without our team being successful, so it’s more a recognition for our team than just myself.”

Since that night in the Bay Area, George changed the way he approached things. After stepping off the plane in Indianapolis the next morning, George went straight to the practice court and put up 500 shots. George also added a new regimen to his game day routine, putting up hundreds of shots and lifting weights. The work has indeed paid off.

“(George) puts winning above everything else,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel in a statement. “He’ll do whatever it takes: defense, rebounding, perimeter shooting, attacking the basket, creating for others. He is one of the most coachable players I’ve ever worked with.”

After struggling in November with added responsibilities on the offensive end, George has blossomed into the Pacers’ best player the last two months. He has averaged 19.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, four assists and two steals in December and January. George has not only led the team in scoring, but also defends the opposition’s best wing player every night at an all-defensive team level.

It’s a well-deserved honor for George after such a slow start individually, which, in turn, contributed to the Pacers’ slow start as a team. As George has improved, so has the Pacers’ place in the standings. Indiana is tied for first in the Central Division, including its current 11-game winning streak at home.

George was projected to make a leap this year by fans and some analysts, but this honor exceeds even those expectations. Indiana may have finally found the young star it has craved for the last decade.

Follow Jay Neal on Twitter @JayNilla