"Oh, he's really lights out."--Kenny Smith
It must be something going around for players who have two first names. For some reason, they know how to ball: Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Kevin Martin, and Paul George, just to name a few. (Taking a note down for when I have a son). These players have established themselves as good NBA players. But the one who suddenly just appeared out of nowhere is Paul George of the Indiana Pacers. This guy is very talented, and has made a name for himself. I would say someone to build a team around. Yes, I said it, a franchise player and at 22 years of age, he can only get better.
When was the last time you heard of an NBA player coming out of Fresno State? I actually had to do research to get the answer; Melvin Ely, back in 2002. He was a first round pick, selected 12th overall. At age 34, he now plays in the D-league. I guess hes still developing. George is actually the fourth player to come out of Fresno State, and be selected in the first round by a team in the past 13 years. He was drafted the highest at #10. George has made significant progress on his development, earning the Most Improved Player Award (MIP) in only his third season. George is very athletic and has great upside to his game. He can play both sides of the floor, and is quickly getting Pacers' fans to forget about Danny Granger--out for the season. When one star goes down, another one quickly rises, at least every GM hopes so.
Thus a star was born. When Granger went down, George didn't back-off from the pressure. He knew, someone had to bring the intensity every night like Granger did. In fact, he grabbed the opportunity and dunked it in. It is now his team. The only difference between George and Granger is the former is more of a complete player, he shoots, he drives, draws fouls, and plays DEFENSE people! That's Pacer basketball in a nutshell. He doesn't start fights to try and get into opponents' head like Granger did against LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2012. He's not a dirty player, but yes the Pacers play physical basketball. They're just picking on the Atlanta Hawks, making them look soft (and Atlanta preferred to match-up against Indiana as oppose to the Heat?--Ed).
"We naturally just play physical," George said. "It wasn't like, 'Hey, let's play physical, let's retaliate.' That's just how we play. That's how we approach the game. We just have to keep playing how we play."
How physical did they get? Well they had 10 steals and 5 blocks. George accounting for four steals and one block. He plays DEFENSE people! To me, he's a better player than Granger. Him and the Pacers simply make the game harder for opponents. Just ask Atlanta, now down 0-2 in their first round playoff series. They play physical, tough, over-powering defense. They're a #3 seed for a reason. Then, when they get their crowd behind them, its just harder to beat them at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (30-11 at home). They were ranked first in rebounds in the regular season and second in points allowed. I can't reiterate this enough: they play DEFENSE people!
How did George fare against the Hawks? Well, in their first two playoff games of the series, he messed around and got a triple-double in the first game and followed that up on Wednesday with 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists, four steals and a block. George, also made his first All-Star appearence this past season. Yeah, I would say a franchise player. It's no wonder Larry Bird won the Executive of the Year Award last season. He knew how to build a team. Putting George around a solid point guard in George Hill and a big body in Roy Hibbert in the post. Thanks to George, they are a solid team and will be for years with George leading them. A former bulldog, that I can remember.