Notable Moments in Paul George's Career Thus Far
There are very few superstars in this league who are developed through time and experience. Most of them come into this league and are already known as superstars (i.e., LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan). But there are others who come into this league as a no-name and develop and improve to become a great player.
Paul George fits into this category.
As the 10th pick in the 2010 NBA draft, George was expected to join an Indiana Pacers team that hasn't tasted the playoffs in four years. He was the glimmer of hope in the franchise that could revive the team during the post-brawl era.
After leading his team to the Eastern Conference Finals and falling one game short of reaching the NBA Finals, George has solidified his name as one of the elite players in the league.
Let's take a look back at some of the most notable events and highlights of George's career after three seasons.
Paul George Gets Selected with the 10th Pick
The Pacers landed the 10th pick in the 2010 draft after going 32-50 during the 2009-10 season, and they couldn't have gotten a better wing player than George.
Prior to the Pacers selecting George, they utilized a combination of Brandon Rush and Dahntay Jones at shooting guard, while Danny Granger was in his prime and averaged over 24 points per game during that season, per Basketball Reference.
With no disrespect to Rush and Jones, as they are both great shooters and defensive specialists, but their ceilings were relatively low and their potential was nowhere near the level of George's as he came to the team.
It was clear from the start that George would have a big impact on this franchise, and that's what he has done.
George Records Career High in Points During Rookie Season
Toward the end of the 2010-11 regular season, he recorded a career high in points in a game, scoring 23 points in just 25 minutes of playing time on April 6, 2011 against the Washington Wizards. He also added in six rebounds and four assists, along with just one turnover.
George went 9-of-15 from the field and connected on five of his six three-pointers—and it was just a brief display of his spectacular shooting touch.
Although it was a regular-season game against one of the worst teams in the league, this win was extremely important for the Pacers because they were struggling to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff win. So, a victory like this down the stretch certainly helps them.
George Guards Derrick Rose in the Playoffs
In the 2010-11 season, the Pacers secured a playoff berth for the first time in five seasons. Although George didn't have a huge impact during the regular season, he was assigned the most difficult task in the playoffs.
The 6'8" George was set to guard MVP and superstar point guard Derrick Rose in the first round. Even though the Chicago Bulls ended up dispatching the Pacers in five games, this was the first glimpse we had of George's defensive potential.
Rose averaged 27.6 points per game and 6.2 assists per game in the series, but he only managed to hit 37.1 percent of his shots from the field and 21.6 percent from beyond the arc.
The first two games required the Bulls to make major comebacks to grab the victories, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter where the Bulls figured out the Pacers defense. George's impact on the defensive end was certainly felt.
George Wins Most Improved Player Award
Two years after being selected to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, George notched yet another individual accomplishment.
In the 2012-13 season, George increased his averages across the board in comparison to the season before. He posted up 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game, which were all regular-season career highs.
Although his field-goal percentage has declined in each of the three seasons he's been in the league, it just shows that opposing defenses are paying more attention to George's improving offensive game. He's earned the respect over time.
George was always a great defender coming into the league, but his offensive game has improved drastically in the past two years.
George Dunks on the Birdman
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, George accomplished his best highlight-worthy moment of his career on the biggest stage he's ever played on.
During the closing seconds of the third quarter, he made a nice move to get by LeBron James and proceeded to slam home a thunderous dunk over the highly energetic Chris "Birdman" Andersen.
Not only did George add another poster to his collection, but his dunk helped the Pacers end the third quarter on a high note and shift the momentum to their side when the fourth quarter started.
It's definitely nice to see George taking the initiative and making an aggressive drive once in a while, as I do believe he has been settling for too many jumpers during the regular season. His drive and dunk was just an introduction to his greatness.
George Records Spectacular Eastern Conference Finals Performance
George's regular-season averages have improved every year, but he really hasn't had a breakout postseason until the 2012-13 campaign.
Prior to the 2013 playoffs, George averaged a pitiful 8.6 points per game on 36.7 percent shooting in his last two postseasons, but his ineffectiveness hasn't carried over to this year at all.
In this postseason, George averaged 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. His best games came during the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, where he averaged 19.4 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting from the field.
Even though the Pacers ended up losing to the Heat in seven games, there was no doubt that George has become one of the best two-way players in the league, and his head-to-head matchups against James were some of the best duels in recent memory.