Paul George is on a tear and driving the Pacers’ success


Despite losing by three in overtime to the Utah Jazz, Paul George put together a 48 point performance and looks nowhere close to stopping his current form.

If there was an MVP award given to guys not named Steph Curry and ran through the opening 20 games of the season, it would have to go to the definite Pacers MVP and driving force Paul George.

Already on a tear that has seen him be crowned both player of the week and player of the month in the Eastern Conference, he went out against the Jazz and was a lay-up away from reaching the half-century mark.

Going into this season, a surprising amount of people doubted the Palmdale, CA native. After all, who could forget George fracturing his leg into to bits when chasing down James Harden. It was gruesome. It was horrific. And it was near vomit-inducing. But now he’s back, and he’s ruling the east.

Through 19 games this season, PG is on pace for the best season of his career and it’s not even close.

On the offensive end, from a very basic standpoint George is hitting more than he ever has. Though he is shooting more than ever (19.7 FGA per gm), he’s knocking down just over 45.1% and is averaging 27.6 points per game. That point total has him sitting third in the league in scoring, behind Harden (29.3) and Curry (32.4).

From long-range, George has been consistently hot. In the 2013/14 season where George was an all-star and led Indiana in scoring at 21.6 points per, he hit 182 out of 500 attempts (36.4%) in 80 games. But, through 19 games this season he’s already knocked down 64 (!) of 141 attempts (45.4%). That number puts him second among players who have played at least 14 games and average six or more three-point attempts per game, again behind Curry.

Not only is George red-hot from the area, but he’s also on pace to blow out his previous career high of 182 3PMs, and is instead on track for 278 made assuming he is active and hits his mark in all 82 games. This is UNREAL for anyone in an Indiana uniform, as it would shatter the previous record held by Reggie Miller of 229 3PM in the 1996/97 season.

But, the Pacers’ centerpiece is also doing more inside the arc than ever. For the first time in his career, George is taking one-quarter of his shots from outside 16+ feet (long 2’s). But, he is still hitting 45.1% from this range. Granted, the majority of George’s high percentage comes from his attempts between 5-9 feet from the basket, but he’s still producing at an incredibly high rate.

Defensively, George sits in the top ten in defensive FG%, a.k.a. the field goal percentage of the opponent when the player is defending, of those who have played at least 18 games. Now, there are some weird names in there (mainly looking at you, Evan Turner), but he’s up there with LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, people widely regarded as two of the top ten defenders in the league.

George is also in the top ten in Diff%, or the differential between the opponent’s usual FG% and their FG% when defended by X player, though that list is comprised of mainly the same players as the one above.

In the DefRtg category, the number of points per 100 possessions that the team allows while X player is on the floor, the Fresno State alum is in the top 20 among those who have played at least 14 games and average at least 20 minutes. And, although he is behind the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, and others, he’s also ahead of players like Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler, and LeBron James.

So, what do all these basic and advanced statistics mean? Above all else, enjoy the Paul George that we are seeing now. He is establishing himself as a top-five two-way player in the game and is on a level very few are managing.

Offensively, he’s one of, if not the, best forwards in the league and, despite not reaching Curry numbers, remains one of the NBA’s biggest threats. Defensively, he’s improving consistently and doesn’t sacrifice much on this end of the floor to make room for more scoring chances.

Paul George is getting a ton of help from his teammates as well as his head coach Frank Vogel but is still shooting for the moon in what would normally be considered more than enough to be involved in the NBA’s MVP discussion. Simply put, if Steph Curry didn’t exist, Paul George would likely be the league’s most valuable through 19 games this season.

However, Curry very much does exist. Sorry, Paul, but your time will come.