As recently as two years ago, the Indiana Pacers were Danny Granger’s team. When he stepped onto the floor, the team looked to him for leadership both on and off of the floor. However, with Granger missing almost the entire 2012-2013 NBA season and, more importantly, the emergence of Paul George, that’s no longer the case.
In a recent interview with Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star, George talked about how he trained to be a role player coming into last season with the uncertainty surrounding Granger’s return to action. He then went on to say that he has trained this season to be the go-to guy and the leader of this Pacers team heading into the 2013-2014 season.
George won the league’s Most Improved Player award last season as he submitted quite an impressive year. In 79 games, George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals in 37.6 minutes per game, though he shot just 41.9 percent from the floor. He continued his success into the postseason where, in 19 playoff games, he averaged 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals in 41.1 minutes per game and raised his field goal percentage to 43 percent from the field.
One of the most impressive things about George as a player and potential star is the way that he can affect games in so many ways. He’s a versatile offensive player that can attack in a multitude of ways and he’s an absolutely phenomenal defender that can change the game on that end of the floor.
If George really wants to be a leader in the upcoming season, though, he must become a more efficient scorer and must work on his ball-handling. Though his scoring is by no means a problem, he has to raise his efficiency level if he wants to lead by taking and creating smarter shots. As for his ball-handling, George is average-at-best as of right now, which sometimes limits the plays he can make on the offensive end, for both himself and his teammates. He has to continue to put in the work to develop that area of his game.
It’s a rare occurrence that you can definitively say a player heading into his fourth NBA season is the leader of his team, but that’s definitely the case with George and the Pacers. George still has some developing left to do, but he seems to have taken the responsibility of being a leader seriously this summer and has worked hard. He won the Most Improved Player last season, but don’t be surprised if he continues to improve this year as he takes the reins in Indiana.