The Indiana Pacers have won 7 of their last 10 games and Paul George is single-handedly leading them to the top of the Eastern Conference. He has averaged 34.6 points over a three game stretch against the Jazz, Warriors, and Heat. It is a reminder to the NBA that when he is healthy, Paul George is a superstar.
George’s offensive proficiency is something to behold – averaging 27.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game with a PER of 26.0. He’s scored 40 points or more twice, 30 points or more seven times. It’s his defensive talent where he makes his impact.
“It’s how I made my name in this league, wanting to guard the best player or match up against the best player,” George told reporters after their win over the Celtics. “That’s what I do. It’s fun to me. I don’t take it as it’s going to drain me or tire me out. It energizes me when I can get a stop on the best player. It gets me going when I can get a stop against the best guy on the other team.”
Not many players are the two-way type player that George is. LeBron James and Paul George are far ahead the rest of the league in being a dominant two-way player. Kawhi Leonard is part of that select club too.
Many fans are quick to forget how elite Paul George was before his injury. He was a leading MVP candidate, and the Pacers were on top of the world. The emergence of Stephen Curry and his alien performances have deservingly shifted the attention and media to the Golden State Warriors, but before that, it was George and the Pacers. It was how Roy Hibbert was possibly the best center in the NBA. It was how Lance Stephenson was the player blowing in LeBron’s ear during the Eastern Conference Finals.
Crazy how quickly things can change isn’t it?
Things are very different now for the Pacers. They have cut ties with Roy Hibbert and David West, leading the Pacers to change their offensive style. Indiana added Monta Ellis and are working on a spread offense and playing at a faster pace. George has also started to log minutes at the power forward position.
It has not been an easy transition for George. He had to adapt to a different offensive style on top of coming off injury but he is a top 10 scorer in the league. He has also found his place back as one of the NBA’s elite defenders.
Paul George has always been a vital part to the success of the Pacers, but now he is the whole show. He is the indisputable centerpiece of this newly renovated roster.
“I take a lot of pride in being our leader. I take pride in the outcome of games. I’m going to bring it, night in and night out. I’m going to be the guy that’s always going to bring it.”
It will be George’s responsibility to keep his word in order to carry Indiana into the playoffs, as a scorer but also as a leader. His numbers are better than his greatest year, 2013-14, except his shots at the rim are down. Is that because of the injury memory or the new spacing the floor and taking threes offense? George’s current points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, efficiency are all career highs and MVP caliber.
The Pacers are 5th in scoring and second in three-point accuracy. You beat the Pacers by making them hit two-point shots.
In a year in which so much for the Indiana Pacers has changed- pace, style of play, personnel- Paul George is the consistent bright light gutting out wins, defending his position, responsible for a championship push. When it is all said and down, at the end of the season, Paul George’s name will be right up there with superstars like Curry, LeBron, and Westbrook in MVP votes. And the new-look Pacers will be fighting for a trip to the NBA Finals.
photo via llananba