Indiana Pacers: How Paul George Can Blossom into a Superstar
He was selected to be an All-Star reserve this year and is already the face of the franchise for this club. However, he's still not a legitimate superstar yet.
George is merely a great player on a great team, but he doesn't stand out among the other good players surrounding him. Make no mistake, he's having a very good season, but he obviously isn't in the same category as LeBron James or Kevin Durant yet.
This slideshow will present a few aspects of George's game that he must improve in order to become one of the elite players in the NBA.
Improved Shot Selection
This is probably the most common issue that a lot of developing players experience.
Make no mistake, George is a great outside shooter and has the length to shoot over anybody defending him.
But anyone as athletic and mobile as George should take advantage of his mismatches much more frequently. He is reportedly 6'8" but primarily plays the 2 or the 3. That means he has a match-up advantage against almost every opposing defender, because hardly anybody is as big as George at those positions.
In the Pacers' most recent loss against the Boston Celtics, George shot 7-for-22 from the field. Twelve of his attempts came from the mid-range area or beyond the three-point line, and he only connected on three of them.
However, he shot 4-for-10 in the painted area and around the rim, and George certainly has the ability to consistently create higher percentage shots for himself.
For the season, he's shooting a respectable 38 percent from three-point land, but he's taking nearly six of them per game. If he can lessen those attempts and create more shots closer to the rim, George would take a big step forward.
Develop a Post Game
Furthermore, we've seen other renowned superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony work on their post moves with the Dream as well. Anthony has been working with Olajuwon since this season started, and he's having one of his most productive seasons in his 10-year career.
Now it's George's turn.
He has the size, length, strength and quickness to excel at every aspect on offense. A player of George's build should be able to play up to three positions on the court. His guard-like skills give him the advantage over traditional post defenders, because he can face them up and take them off the dribble.
As George develops and improves his game, he could probably be playing power forward in the near future. He has all the tools necessary, and his unpolished post game right now is holding him back from being an offensive powerhouse.
Work on Close-Ranged Shots
I mentioned earlier that George takes too many outside shots and needs to take higher percentage looks.
But his shots closer to the basket just aren't going down, so that's probably why he hauls so many long-range shots.
According to Hoop Data, George is only connecting on 28 percent of his attempts from 3-9 feet, which is pitiful. He just can't seem to finish near the basket or in the paint, and that is likely due to a handful of different factors.
For one, the Pacers' inside-out offense of David West and Roy Hibbert clog the paint, and it's hard for perimeter teammates like George to free himself up to score when the defense collapses on him.
It hasn't been just a one-season fluke either. For the previous two seasons, George has shot 30.8 percent from 3-9 feet in 2010-11, and just 24.4 percent last season. This is definitely one area that George must improve in. As a 6'8" swingman, it's unacceptable to score only 28 percent of the time when he's that close to the basket.
Become a Vocal Leader
George should be lucky to have a veteran like David West on his team.
West is probably one of the best leaders in the game today, and his impact on the Pacers extends far beyond his box scores (which, by the way, are also quite good).
Because of West, George has the option of taking a backseat and letting the 9-year veteran lead this group of young players.
Obviously George is only 22 years old, but he is the best player on the team right now. In the next few years, we should expect to see George becoming a more active leader and voice for the team.
Having veteran voices in the locker room is great, but players primarily follow the best player on the team. George needs to lead by example and encourage his teammates night in and night out. West and Granger won't be around forever, so it's good for George to start developing that habit early on.
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