What to Expect From Paul George
*Photo via USA Today
At the end of the 2013-14 NBA season, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, was on the cusp of superstardom. George was entering the LeBron James and Kevin Durant class of elite wings, when his future was violently thrust into uncertainty.
During the 2014 USA Basketball Showcase, George, one of the top defensive players in the league, raced back to challenge a fastbreak layup. His momentum carried his right leg into the stanchion and the entire Thomas & Mack Center looked on in disbelief, as George writhed in pain.
It’s been slightly over a year since George suffered his gruesome broken leg. The injury was likely to cost him the entire 2014-15 season. However, George was able to return down the stretch in limited minutes for the final six games for the Pacers.
George entered the fray as Indiana was making a playoff push, and needed PG to be the All-Star caliber performer he was pre-injury. However, George averaged fewer than nine points, while shooting 36 percent from the field and left the season finale with an injury scare.
Now nobody expected George to return from injury, guns blazin’ and lead Indiana to the playoffs. With the extended offseason, he’s now had an entire summer to continue to regain his strength and confidence in his leg. This offseason, the Pacers had a frontcourt overhaul and philosophy change after David West opted to join the San Antonio Spurs, and Roy Hibbert was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers. After signing dynamic guard Monta Ellis and selecting big man Myles Turner in the lottery, the Pacers plan on playing at a much quicker pace.
Team President, Larry Bird, has said numerous times this offseason that Paul George will play heavy minutes at power forward. George, who’s listed at 6’9”, 220, will likely be used in a similar role to LeBron and Carmelo Anthony when their respective squads play small ball. Now Paul George has the height to clearly fill this role in the smaller lineup, however, the athletic George isn’t the most physically overpowering guy; which could be a major liability when going against bigger opponents.
*Photo via Getty Images
Most perimeter players don’t like playing post basketball because of the physicality. Hell, even big men don’t like playing post basketball anymore. Your legs take a beating, your upper body takes a pounding, and you have to go score 20 plus points. Now do that for 82 games and add on postseason play.
As we all witnessed in the NBA Finals, small ball can alter a series. But what will happen for Indiana when they take those same principals and apply them to a larger sample size? Although George will be able to space the floor with his shooting and be uber efficient as a small ball power forward, post defending will be a taxing challenge.
The return of a healthy Paul George will be one of the biggest storylines this season. Strapped with a new nickname, PG13 is ready to reclaim his status among the NBA’s elite.