Paul George is the most frustrating superstar in the NBA in many respects. He seems eternally on the cusp of breaking through to that next tier where he would be in honest contention for best player in the league.
Aside from never quite fully realizing the potential that many fans feel he possessed, George is a sensational player. On defense, he is rangy and disruptive without taking unnecessary gambles. Offensively he is a good shooter, and though he lacks an explosive first step, is able to stride his way to the basket with his length.
Despite the ostracization he received for his lackluster performance in his most recent playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, George is still a quality player. There is no reason to believe that a precipitous decline has occurred or is coming soon.
His ball-handling skills are certainly above average, especially for his size. As a passer, he is not exactly a world beater – but is more than capable of finding the open man.
With regards to basketball IQ, George is able to make intelligent reads, particularly on defense – allowing him to be an excellent team defender. George is not the type of player that can orchestrate an offense, but rather is the scoring centric wing that can create his own shot or hit open shots.
Though not freakishly athletic, George has above average verticality and has lateral quickness above and beyond most players of his height.
During his time with the Indiana Pacers, Paul George had not yet hit his prime, but he was given the opportunity to be the primary option as Danny Granger faded due to injuries. While excellent as a primary option, the ceiling was obvious.
Like most players, Paul George is not good enough to be the primary option on a championship level team. This is obviously not a besmirchment of his abilities, few players are of that ilk.
Despite his colossal collapse in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, there is no reason to think that Paul could not successfully be the second option to Kawhi Leonard in a championship run.
In fact, George’s skill set is perfectly suited to be the second option on a championship team, and with Kawhi Leonard as a proven champion, George is likely in an optimal position to win a championship this season.
That being said, he will soon be 31, and several other teams have improved (the Los Angeles Lakers). This is to say that George’s potential to win a title is largely theoretical. Though he will likely age well due to a lack of reliance on his athletic ability – he is still on the wrong side of 30.
This also applies to his first option, Kawhi Leonard. Unfortunately for Paul George, the first adjustment year that is typically needed to acclimate to new teammates may ultimately prove to be the reason that he never wins an NBA championship.
Paul George was never going to be a top ten player, despite the flashes of potential. His skills and above average athletic ability make him great, but his basketball IQ is not quite to the level that allows him to be elite.