Paul George is an elite basketball player who has established himself as one of the most versatile players in the NBA. He has a unique combination of size, speed, and skill that has made him a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the court. His success on the court can be traced back to his college career, where he honed his skills and made a name for himself as a top prospect.
College Career and Scouting Reports
Paul George attended Fresno State University for two seasons, from 2008 to 2010. In his sophomore season, he averaged 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game, while shooting 42.4% from the field and 34.7% from three-point range. His impressive numbers caught the attention of NBA scouts, who were impressed by his athleticism and his ability to score from anywhere on the court.
At the time, George was seen as a raw prospect with tremendous potential. He had a solid jump shot, great ball handling skills, and the ability to finish at the rim with authority. He was also an excellent defender, with quick hands and great instincts. However, scouts felt that he needed to work on his consistency, particularly in his shooting, and his ability to make quick decisions on the court.
Many scouts compared George to a young Tracy McGrady, due to his size, athleticism, and scoring ability. Others compared him to Andre Iguodala, due to his all-around game and his ability to impact the game in multiple ways. Despite some concerns about his consistency, George was considered a top prospect heading into the 2010 NBA Draft.
Indiana Pacers Career
The Indiana Pacers selected George with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. In his rookie season, he played sparingly, averaging just 7.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. However, he showed flashes of his potential, particularly in his ability to defend multiple positions.
George’s breakout season came in his second year, when he averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He also showed significant improvement in his shooting, raising his three-point percentage to 38.5%. George’s breakout season was aided by the presence of Danny Granger, the Pacers’ leading scorer at the time. Granger’s presence allowed George to play more freely and take on a secondary scoring role.
Over the next few seasons, George continued to improve, both as a scorer and as a defender. He earned his first All-Star selection in the 2012-2013 season, when he averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. He also showed improvement in his decision-making, reducing his turnover rate and improving his shot selection.
In the 2013-2014 season, George had his best season yet, averaging 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He also led the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in six games. Despite the loss, George’s performance in the playoffs cemented his status as one of the best players in the league.
During the summer of 2014, George was selected to play for the USA Men’s National Basketball team in the FIBA World Cup. However, disaster struck during a scrimmage when he suffered a gruesome leg injury, breaking his right leg in two places. The injury was so severe that many thought he might never play again.
Despite the setback, George worked tirelessly to recover from the injury. He missed the entire 2014-2015 season, but returned to the court in the 2015-2016 season.
Oklahoma City Thunder
In the 2017 offseason, Paul George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder to join forces with 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. George had a solid season with the Thunder, averaging 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. However, despite George’s strong performance, the Thunder struggled in the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round by the Utah Jazz.
The following season, the Thunder added Carmelo Anthony to their roster, creating a “Big Three” with George, Westbrook, and Anthony. However, the team underperformed, and although George had another strong season, averaging 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game, the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs once again.
Los Angeles Clippers
In the summer of 2019, Paul George was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he was reunited with his former coach, Doc Rivers, and joined forces with Kawhi Leonard, one of the best players in the league. The move was a surprise, as many had expected George to join the Los Angeles Lakers and team up with LeBron James.
George’s first season with the Clippers was marred by injuries. He missed the first 11 games of the season with a shoulder injury, and then missed time later in the season with a hamstring injury. However, when he was on the court, he played at an extremely high level, averaging 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.
Despite his injury setbacks, George played an important role in the Clippers’ playoff run. He had a memorable performance in Game 5 of the first round against the Dallas Mavericks, scoring 35 points and leading the Clippers to a crucial win. He also had strong performances in the second round against the Denver Nuggets, averaging 22.8 points per game.
In the 2020-2021 season, George continued to play at a high level, averaging 23.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. He also showed improvement in his three-point shooting, raising his percentage to 41.1%. Despite missing time with a toe injury, he helped lead the Clippers to their first-ever Western Conference Finals appearance.
In the playoffs, George had several standout performances, including a 37-point game in Game 5 of the first round against the Dallas Mavericks and a 41-point game in Game 5 of the Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns. Although the Clippers ultimately fell short of their championship goal, George’s strong play earned him the nickname “Playoff P” and cemented his status as one of the league’s elite players.
Fit with Kawhi Leonard
One of the reasons why Paul George’s move to the Clippers was so intriguing was the potential fit with Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, is one of the best two-way players in the league, known for his defensive prowess and his ability to score from anywhere on the court. George, with his all-around game and his ability to defend multiple positions, seemed like the perfect complement to Leonard.
The two players quickly established a strong on-court chemistry, with Leonard often deferring to George in clutch situations. Both players had a knack for making big shots in big moments, and they quickly became known as one of the best duos in the league.
Off the court, George and Leonard also developed a strong relationship. According to reports, Leonard privately recruited George to join him on the Clippers, and the two players frequently spent time together off the court. Their friendship and their on-court chemistry were key factors in the Clippers’ success over the past two seasons.
Despite their success, George and Leonard have faced criticism for their inability to lead the Clippers to a championship. In the 2020 playoffs, the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the second round, and in the 2021 playoffs, they fell to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. George, in particular, faced scrutiny for some of his performances in the playoffs.
However, George has shown a willingness to take responsibility for his mistakes and to continue to work on his game. In a postgame interview after the Clippers were eliminated from the 2021 playoffs, George said, “I’m my biggest critic. It’s good to have expectations, it’s good to have pressure, because that means you’re in the mix, you’re in the hunt. And so, I’m more motivated than ever to come back even better next year.”
Paul George’s career has been marked by ups and downs, but through it all, he has remained one of the most talented and versatile players in the league. From his college career at Fresno State to his time with the Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Clippers, George has shown a commitment to improving his game and to helping his team win.
Although he has yet to win a championship, George’s success on the court, his strong work ethic, and his ability to overcome adversity have earned him the respect of his peers and the admiration of fans around the world. As he continues to work on his game and to pursue his championship dreams, there is no doubt that Paul George will continue to be one of the most exciting players in the league to watch.