Paul George is a beast.
As of Jan. 3, George is averaging 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists through 32 games. Not gaudy numbers, but it is clear he is the star of the team. Below are a few of his breakout games:
- Nov. 21 vs. New Orleans: 37 points, four rebounds, four assists
- Dec. 4 at Chicago: 34 points, nine rebounds, three steals
- Dec. 14 vs. Philadelphia: 28 points, six rebounds, three blocks
- Dec. 19 vs. Utah: 20 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks
- Jan. 2 vs. Washington: 29 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals
He had a great month in December, averaging 18.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He was even named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 17 (his first ever, and the first such distinction given to an Indiana Pacer since Danny Granger pulled it off during the first week of the 2007-08 season).
During George's first two seasons, he's been criticized for not being assertive and consistent given the enormous potential he has.
That seems to have changed.
With Granger's absence due to patellar tendinosis in his left knee, George has picked up the slack, displaying an impressive all-around offensive arsenal which includes dunking in traffic, jacking up threes and expanding his mid-range game.
Nowadays, it's also not uncommon to come across double-digit figures in rebounds and several blocks for good measure on George's stat sheet.
On the defensive end, he has also been known to shut down the opposing team's best wing scorer. During the 2010-11 NBA playoffs against the Chicago Bulls—his rookie year—he was assigned to guard Derrick Rose.
In an interview with Mark Montieth of Pacers.com, coach Frank Vogel said, "Paul George is becoming a beast of a player on both ends of the court. Just flat-out becoming a beast of a player."
Washington Wizards center Emeka Okafor seconds the motion, when he was quoted by Montieth in the same featured article as saying, "He had a beast of a game. Everything he was putting up was going in and he showed great efforts on the boards" after the Pacers beat the Wizards 89-81 on Jan. 2.
George is one of the main reasons why the Pacers currently lead the Central Division with a 19-13 record. If he continues to play the way he has, he should get some serious consideration for Most Improved Player honors.
More importantly, with George in the mix, the Indiana Pacers have a virtuoso on both ends of the court who should help them go deeper into the playoffs each year.
At only 22 years of age, the sky is the limit for him.