For the passive NBA fan, the last significant memory of the Indiana Pacers was the “Malice at the Palace” in 2004 against the Detroit Pistons. Prior to that, perhaps Spike Lee and Reggie’s feud almost a decade earlier. Things have certainly changed of late. The transformation started with Danny Granger, the NBA All-Star and Team USA member that catapulted the Pacers into league relevance by scoring the ball at a high clip for over five seasons. When Granger fell to injury, the Pacers gave young Paul George the opportunity to show he was worth his weight in gold …. and blue.
The young Palmdale, California, product showed that Kendrick Lamar wasn’t the only one with some “control” outside of his home state.
George began to fill up the stat sheet, doubling his scoring output in two seasons of full-time minutes. The buckets have come in the form of constant trips to the basket off his silky handle, pure jumpers, and strong finishes at the rim. Check his rap sheet this year and you’ll see that while his team is best in the land, PG is playing the best ball of his life. Averages of over 25 ppg, 5 rebounds, and 3 dimes accompany a league best 20 wins and 3 losses for the Pacers. George is also shooting 42 percent from the arc and over 47 percent from the field.
Proving to be problematic for the rest of the League, the 6’9 George is flourishing at the helm of the hardbody Pacers. The perfect combination of raw ability, grit, and skill, George is set to make Larry Bird smile for years after the ink dries on his recent max contract (worth between 80-90 mil).
Oh, and that’s not even taking into account his defensive presence. Drafted as a defender, PG hasn’t gone the way of some superstars that rely on their offense for defense. PG actually defends the best players on the floor nightly; from Kevin Durant to LeBron James, and everyone in between. His recent comments regarding his preference of guarding James over Durant raised alarms and added flame to two teams’ budding rivalry brewing in the East.
Statistically, George isn’t far-fetched in his beliefs; Durant has proved to be a harder guard for the young star. James has beat him in the playoffs twice however, which had some thinking its just hot air being spewed to get in Lebron’s head before their early season matchup (which the Pacers won). The latter may be a reach, as George has proven to be all substance in Granger’s absence.