Paul George Previews 2013-14 Indiana Pacers and Dishes on Andrew Wiggins
George's rapid rise through the ranks of pro basketball landed him a spot on the stage at the 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year Awards ceremony in Hollywood. George was only lightly recruited out of Knight High School in Palmdale, Calif., before arriving at Fresno State in 2008—the same year that Jrue Holiday took home the honor as the top male high school basketball player in the country.
And yet, here was Paul, handing off hardware to Andrew Wiggins, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. At 23, George is hardly an elder statesman, but even he has sage advice to offer an 18-year-old kid who, at 6'8" and about 200 pounds, is already expected to be the next face of pro basketball once LeBron James cedes his throne.
George sat down with Bleacher Report after the Gatorade reception to talk about Wiggins, how he's competing with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both on and off the court, and his expectations for himself and the Pacers this coming season.
On Andrew Wiggins
Paul George gives his perspective on handing out the most prestigious award in the country for prep athletes (i.e. the Gatorade Player of the Year award) after garnering so little attention himself during his high school days. He also offers glowing praise for Andrew Wiggins, the trophy's recipient.
On His Coming-of-Age in the 2013 NBA Playoffs
The 2013 playoffs proved to be a coming-out party of sorts for Paul George. He stepped up his game under pressure—to the tune of 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 41.1 minutes a night—to lead the Pacers within a game of their second NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.
George certainly didn't come by those numbers easily. He had to earn every bit of praise while matched up on both ends of the floor against the top players at his position, from Josh Smith to Carmelo Anthony to LeBron James.
Here, George talks about going toe-to-toe with the best and how he benefited from those battles.
On What's to Come in 2013-14
As good as Paul already is at the tender age of 23, and as successful as Indy's most recent season was, player and team have their sights set on bigger and better things for 2013-14—and plenty of work to do to reach their goals.
Not surprisingly, George wants to continue to climb the league's ladder of great players and take the Pacers to the top of the mountain with him.
On the Highly Anticipated Return of Danny Granger
Not that Paul won't have plenty of help. The Pacers are expecting Danny Granger, a former All-Star himself, to be back in action in time for the 2013-14 campaign. Granger missed all but five games last season because of persistent knee problems.
George has high hopes for what Granger will bring to the team upon his return.
On His Plans for the Summer
Climbing to the top of his profession will be anything but easy for Paul George. Like his predecessors and current competition, George will have to put in the requisite sweat in the offseason to expand his game and improve his physical condition.
Work that he says he's already begun to put in, in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Las Vegas for the USA Basketball minicamp.
On Challenging LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with His Style
You'd have to be devoid of sight to miss Paul George's bold forays into the world of fashion. He showed up to the Gatorade Player of the Year awards ceremony wearing a black leather button-down shirt, pink pants, bedazzled kicks and translucent-framed glasses.
So, naturally, I asked Paul about his style and whether he's trying to compete with his peers in the realm of sartorial sensibilities as well.