If you haven’t been paying attention to the Indiana Pacers so far, it’s time to take notice. Not only has Frank Vogel’s scrappy squad clawed its way to the third best record in the East (9-5), a true superstar is emerging.
Paul George has been on the cusp of stardom for a couple of seasons. But now, fully recovered from his devastating leg injury two seasons ago, George is turning into Indiana’s undisputed leader and is performing at an MVP level.
Over his last 10 games, George is averaging 29.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 50% shooting. Insane.
Despite going through the motions in what could have been a lost season, PG is justifying his $95 million extension by doing what great players do…continuing to add new facets to their game.
There’s a few reasons why PG is crossing over into superstar territory:
- “Vision” – Acting as a pseudo point guard in George Hill’s absence, Paul initiated sets out of the P&R with close to a 30% assist percentage. Instead of forcing entries into the post or cross court passes, PG is taking his time post-penetration and is making the correct play after drawing in defenders.
- “Taking Charge” – George has a legitimate shot at Defensive Player of the Year with the way he’s taken the reigns on the wing. Indiana is ranked #4 in defensive scoring, allowing just 95.3 ppg. It’s due in large part to the responsibility George has assumed versus top point guards, shooting guards and small forwards.
- “Unstoppable Scoring” – PG does it all as a scorer. Creating jumpers off the dribble, scoring in transition and operating out of the post have all become second nature.
Because PG is playing so well, new comparisons are beginning to come to light. We liken this, “Frieza” final form version of Paul George to Tracy McGrady…with better defense!
Before you think I’m crazy, take a look at the parallels between T-Mac’s first full season with Orlando and George’s 2015-16 campaign:
McGrady (2000-2001): 40.1 mpg, 26.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.6 apg
George (2015-2016): 35.6 mpg, 25.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.8 apg
Pretty similar numbers. But even without looking at the stats, PG passes the eye test both in terms of his resemblance to T-Mac as a scorer and the types of looks he’s able to convert.
Before this season, you never really saw PG pull up in a defender’s face for a heat-check 3 or isolate up to for a fadeaway jumper. He’s shooting 42% on transition threes and does NOT hesitate to cash it despite solid coverage.
He’s not quite at T-Mac’s level as a scorer yet but he’s starting to gain more confidence while realizing NO ONE CAN STOP HIM. Once a talented scorer fully buys into that mindset, they never look back.
Check out how he exploded v. Washington from the outside:
…if Indiana can sustain their torrid start, Paul George is on the short list of MVP candidates. The old adage is true, the NBA is a star’s league. PG-13 reaching such distinction pretty much insures the Pacers have a chance to win every single night.
Final Form Paul George is a two-way, remixed version of Tracy McGrady. Tell your friends.