Indiana Pacers: 4 Ways for Paul George to Ensure Superstar Status Next Season
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After all, he did cop 2013 NBA Most Improved Player, 2013 NBA All-Defensive Second Team and 2013 All-NBA Third Team honors last season.
Certainly impressive. But one breakout year won't be enough to make George an overnight sensation. Of course, he has to be consistent with his play.
There are also a few ways to help make George the NBA's next bona fide superstar.
Cut Down on Turnovers
This is George's Achilles' heel.
He averaged 2.9 turnovers per game last season. Surprisingly enough, two teams that gave him the most fits in this area in the 2012-13 regular season were the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz. They forced George to turn the ball over an average of five times per game.
As last season's playoffs wore on, his turnover rate increased from an average of 2.7 in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks to 4.6 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual champions Miami Heat. George turning the ball over five or six times in a 2013 postseason game wasn't uncommon at all.
Since George's reputation as a scorer is now well known among his opponents, they routinely throw double- or even triple-teams at him. In the above clip, he is met by a triple-team from the Toronto Raptors on his way to the basket and eventually gets stripped of possession.
The second part of that clip shows the San Antonio Spurs' Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair converging on George. Neal pokes the ball from behind and Danny Green recovers.
George has to do a better job of recognizing the double-teams coming his way so he can swing the ball out to the open man. He would make for a perfect decoy, since opposing defenses are drawn to him like a magnet.
Improve Mid-Range Game
Superstar players rely on their mid-range game to get results.
Take a look at Kevin Durant's shot chart for the 2012-13 regular season and compare it to Paul George's above. You can see that Durant's mid-range game is nearly flawless—the areas inside the three-point area and slightly away from the basket are all marked in green, which represents the field-goal percentage above the league average.
And then there is George's. The spots marked in red represent field-goal percentages below the league average.
Quite a contrast from Durant's, isn't it?
This is hard evidence of George having difficulty getting his offense going from mid-range, specifically from around 10 to 15 feet away. It's also clear his corner shots inside three-point distance (especially the right side) are off.
Two things are in the offing if George learns to be a consistent mid-range threat. First, he will easily be a 20-points-per-game scorer. Second, he can be a step ahead of opposing double-teams attempting to converge on him in the paint, reducing his turnovers in the process.
Finish with His Left Hand Consistently
George is a player who can handle the ball with either hand. He is also capable of going to his left despite being a natural right-handed player.
However, he has yet to become a great finisher using his left hand.
The above video shows George's ability to throw down a left-handed slam. This was an uncontested score off a steal. Just imagine him doing this in traffic being challenged by bigger men down low.
By relying on the consistent use of his left hand as another weapon to his already impressive arsenal, George can help confuse opposing defenses.
Reggie Miller mentioned in his book, I Love Being the Enemy: "Predictability in the NBA is death." It's no secret he used every ploy imaginable to gain any competitive advantage he could muster.
George becoming a great and consistent finisher with his left hand will not only make him unpredictable, but it will also give him an edge over the opposition on his way to being an NBA superstar for years to come.
Become a Better Leader
David West is arguably the Indiana Pacers' leader.
At 23, it would already be a good time for George to take on a more active leadership role. West is on the cusp of turning 33 next month. When West leaves the NBA, George should have reached his peak as an NBA superstar.
By continuously working and refining his game, George has displayed a stellar work ethic for his teammates to follow. His accolades in 2013 are proof of how far he's come. Setting the example, as he has done, is a good starting point to work on his leadership prowess.
Great players also make others around them better. With Solomon Hill coming on board, George can take the opportunity to mentor the rookie.
Now that George's game is about to soar to never-before-reached heights, it's also time that he helps his teammates soar as well.
The NBA's Next Superstar
Which aspect should Paul George improve on the most?
George is making a loud statement in the NBA. His play in the 2013 regular season and postseason served notice of how big a force he's going to be reckoned with.
By making some adjustments to his game—including cutting down on his turnovers, improving his mid-range game, consistently finishing with his left hand and becoming a better leader—George ought to solidify his status as the league's next superstar for years on end.
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