After another stunning performance last night (a career-high 43 points, 7-of-15 from beyond the arc, including a landslide of long balls in the final stretch) in only the Pacers’ second loss of the season, it’s time to start discussing the possibly of Paul George becoming the NBA’s next superstar.
It’s easy to forget George’s underwhelming rookie and sophomore seasons. After going 10th in the 2010 draft he was comfortably in the starting lineup of the playoff-bound Pacers, averaging 7.8 points per game and playing respectable defense. And while that’s all well and good, it was well below what was expected when he was coming out of school as one of Sports Illustrated’s “Most Exciting Players.” His sophomore season was more of the same, highlighted by a fun turn in the dunk contest, but not much else. It wasn’t until last season when George turned on the jets – netting nine threes in an early season game - that he started to catch some eyes. His biggest moment came in game one of what would inevitably be a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat (although like last night’s virtuoso performance, it ended in a loss).
Now, George is the one player from his draft class that is standing head and shoulders above the rest (despite the hype), and he’s playing for what might be the scariest team in the NBA, especially considering its youth. Besides David West and Danny Granger, no Pacer (who is getting significant minutes – sorry Rasual Butler) has played more than six years in the NBA. More than that, this team clicks like no other team we’ve seen lately. Led by defensive-minded coach Frank Vogel, the Pacers may not put the prettiest basketball on the court, but they're certainly effective.
So with all that in his corner, and after overcoming a slow start, could Paul George become the NBA superstar of the future? That question is not for us to answer.
But we’re saying yes. Most definitely yes.
Photos by NBAE/ Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013