Paul George Is Building Case As Best NBA Player Not Named LeBron James
As the Indiana Pacers cruised to a 97-80 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night it became extremely clear that there is currently a huge gap between the team’s two stars, Paul George and Derrick Rose. While George has opened the 2013-14 season on an absolute tear, Rose has looked like anything but a star player as he continues to battle back from an ACL tear that occurred a year and a half ago.
The gap between the two was never been more evident than on Wednesday, as George scored 21 points and compiled six rebounds while Rose scored 17 points and had only a single rebound. Statistics were not the only things that separated them, though, as watching the on-court product showed one guy that was explosive and another that looked limited with the ball in his hands.
What the on-court product also displayed was a player in George that has ascended from the ranks of little known prospect to a guy that is one of the best basketball players in the world. While this has not been a meteoric rise by any means it has been an extremely efficient one that only looks to keep going up.
When one assesses the ascendancy of George it is apparent that he has been on the rise since entering the NBA in 2010 when he was only a role player. From his rookie season to sophomore season alone the small forward saw his minutes on the floor per game jump from 20.7 to 29.7 and points per game jump from 7.8 to 12.1. Suffice to say this was a huge jump up in play, although it still left the 23 year old from truly being considered a star player.
A great 2012-13 season would begin the end of George’s days as a bit part player, as he averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game before contributing 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in the playoffs. In addition to just being a statistical machine, he was a machine on the defensive end as well, keeping such stars as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James at bay. This great season was validated by inclusion on the All-NBA Third Team, All-Defensive Second Team, and winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.
Fast forward to the beginning of the 2013-14 season, and it only appears that George has improved from this arrival as a truly top notch player. Through five games he has averaged 25.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.8 steals per game, a statistical output that all but assures a place in the 2014 All-Star game.
What this statistical output does not tell is the way that George has acquired these numbers, which are abnormal for a high caliber player to say the least. He has averaged a mere 17.8 shots per game while shooting an absurd 44.44 percent from three-point range which shows an unselfish persona but the ability to also put down a killer shot when it is necessary. In addition to this he is still a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball, in turn compiling a two-way style of play that is nearly unparalleled within basketball today.
If an unselfish persona, great shooting ability and killer defensive play reminds one of a certain guy named LeBron James, there is good reason for that. The reason is that while Paul George is certainly not on the same level as King James, he has created a vast gap between himself and the Derrick Rose’s of the world and became the second best basketball player in the NBA today.