I’m sure you’ve heard of him already as he is taking the NBA by storm this season, but we are witnessing a superstar being born. A superstar makes a team a contender. We’ve got a few superstars in this league in LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and in my opinion, that’s it.
Well, get ready ladies and gentlemen, because there’s a new name on the brink of the superstar level, and he goes by the name of Paul George.
When Danny Granger went down last season with a knee injury, George was expected to take over the offense and put the Indiana Pacers in a good situation so that when Granger returned, they could take off. Well, Granger did return, but not for long. After only five games, Granger took a seat for the rest of the season after re-aggravating his injured knee, meaning George had to carry Indiana to the playoffs in only his third season.
Well, I shouldn’t say carry — let’s go with push. George did a pretty good job pushing his team along as they finished with a 49-32 record (one game was canceled) and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. After a summer full of hard work and dedication to improving in the gym and on the court, George and the Pacers are 17-2 and own the No. 1 seed in the East.
In 19 games this season, George is already having himself quite the season. He’s averaging 24.9 points, 3.4 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. He’s also recorded his first 40-point game and career-high 43 points in Monday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Only a day later, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October-November.
We all know George can shoot the lights out as he is fourth in the NBA in scoring, but one thing that makes him stand out is his defense. George is averaging 2.2 steals per game, which is good enough for sixth in the league. But, he does other things that just don’t show up on the stat sheets. George’s ability to guard the perimeter and force bad shots makes him arguably the best wing defender in the NBA.
As we’ve seen in the past, like the Conference Finals last season, George is undoubtedly the best in the league at guarding James, and after a summer of beefing up, he most likely won’t be backed down too many more times by LeBron in future matchups.
Strength and aggressiveness is one thing that has really elevated George’s game this season. He has always taken advantage of his size by driving to the basket and posting players up, and being physically bigger only makes that easier for him. When he does post up those players, that’s where the other thing that has really put George on a different level comes in: confidence.
It has to be skyrocketing right now after a big game in Portland and winning the player of the month award. George has really honed in on his mid-range game, and him pulling up with confidence in every shot just increases the chances of a make every time. Another thing helping him hit more shots from even behind the 3-point arc is his polished release, which is just another thing he worked on over summer.
In an interview on the dock of his reservoir-side home in Indiana, George told NBA TV’s Dennis Scott he wants to be great — that he wants to be a Hall-of-Famer. If he continues down the path he’s on right now, he should have no problem with those aspirations.