The Indiana Pacers head into the 2012-13 NBA season with a renewed sense of confidence. Last season, the Pacers improved their record by a pro-rated 15 games, were the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season. Heading into the season, however, the question remains, who is the lead player on the Pacers, Danny Granger or Paul George?
Historically, Danny Granger has been the lead player on the Indiana Pacers for the past few seasons. Granger has been the scoring leader on the Pacers for five straight seasons now. His scoring fell last season, and his percentages will need to improve if he wants to lead a team.
Danny Granger's game is centered around isolation scoring. He is a player who is able to shoot from around the court and attack the basket as well. He has a game that is not terribly complimentary of other players, but he is able to take on the offensive load by himself for stretches of time.
Paul George is starting his third season in the NBA this season. George showed he is one of the rising stars in this league and raised his point per game output by almost five points a game, his three-point percentage by nine percent, rebounds by two per game and steals by .6 steals per game. George also grew two inches last summer, putting him at 6'10", which is huge for a shooting guard.
George is a player who is able to play perimeter defense at an elite level, shoot the long ball and rebound well for a guard. What George is not able to do at this point in his career is take over the game offensively. Right now, he is dependent on other players to create his offense for him.
At this point in both of their careers, Danny Granger is still the player who you want leading your team. It's true, Granger is not a player who will ever be a true superstar in this league. However, Paul George is a player who has just not developed the scoring instincts to be a real franchise level player in this league. As we see through LeBron, Durant, D-Rose and Kobe, the leaders of a franchise are typically the guys whose game reflects leadership and poise, and that typically relates to scoring prowess.
As well, Paul George's game makes it so that he can function as a role player as well. A player that I might compare Paul George to at this point in his career is a more physically gifted, shooting guard version of Luol Deng. Deng is a player who adds a lot to the game without taking too much away but is not someone you would want to build your offense around. Deng is an All-Star, but absolutely not the leader of his team.
Until Paul George has the ability to really control an offense and be the highest scorer on the team, Danny Granger will continue to be the on-court leader of the Indiana Pacers.