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Paul George is the leader of a dangerous Pacers squad.
Stat Line: 23.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, 46.0% FG, 40.9% 3PT
Last season, Paul George showed flashes of superstardom, but now it's official—he's one of the NBA's elite talents.
After James, George is basketball's best two-way player. His once-average offense has caught up to his All-NBA-caliber defense.
When taking a deeper look at George's stats, his MVP candidacy quickly becomes apparent.
He's transformed into a dynamic offensive threat. George is a deadly three-point shooter, especially from the corners, and has made himself into a capable mid-range shooter. In that area, he's making 44 percent of his attempts, compared to just 36 percent a season ago, via ESPN Stats & Info.
Check out his shot charts from 2012-13 and 2013-14 if you need visual proof of George's shooting improvements.
Out of all of the candidates in this slideshow, he is arguably the most important to his team's offense. As of December 13, when George is on the floor, Indiana scores 106.2 points per 100 possessions. When he's on the bench that number drops to 89.1, a difference of 17, the fourth-highest in the league.
The other players in this list don't crack the top 10.
On the other end of the court, the numbers speak for themselves. He helps pace the league's stingiest defense, which is allowing only 93.6 points per 100 possessions. George led the league in defensive win shares a season ago and is at the top of the list again in 2013-14. His defensive rating is fourth-best in the NBA (stats via Basketball-Reference.com).
George may be third on this list now, but that could easily change by the end of the season. According to ESPN, the MVP has been awarded to a player on the team that finished with the best record 58 percent of the time since 1990.
There's a lot of basketball left to be played, but George is on the right path to take the MVP trophy away from his rival, King James.