Paul George is an ambitious man.
Only 23 with fewer than four full seasons on his resume, George is already a superstar. He's the best player on one of the NBA's best teams. And, in an interview with SLAM's Tzvi Twersky, he made it clear he's already chasing greatness:
I have goals. I want to be MVP. I want to be Defensive Player of the Year. I want to be First-Team All-NBA. I want to be a Gold medalist. I want to be a Hall of Famer. I want to be a Champion. Everything that’s the highest or the greatest that you can do, I want to do that.
Big-city dreams from a small-market player. Lofty expectations from someone talented enough to be historically good.
None of George's goals are out of reach. This isn't a frat boy lusting after inaccessible preeminence. This is a top-10—bordering on top-five—superstar setting a standard he's capable of living up to.
George is already having a monster season, proving to be worth every penny of his max extension. If his current numbers hold, he'll be the first player since Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan in 2003-04, and only the 12th player ever, to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and three assists per game while posting a defensive rating under 96.
Those are MVP-type numbers. It's production that, if consistently sustained, will earn him a Hall of Fame induction in the (very) distant future.
Those statistics allow him to be pitted in the same category as LeBron James.
"I took strides in my consistency, but if I want to get where I want to get to, I need to continue being a consistent basketball player," George told Twersky. "I feel like I can be in the category of LeBron, as far as being a walking triple-double guy."
No arguments here.
George has a skill set that allows him to dominate on both ends of the floor like LeBron. He can act as a point forward. And he also has the defensive aptitude to become the first perimeter-based Defensive Player of the Year since Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest) in 2003-04.
Let's actually compare his per-game numbers this season to LeBron, shall we?
|Player||PTS||REBS||ASTS||STLS||FG%||3P%||PER||Off. Rtg.||Def. Rtg.|
Can Paul George become a LeBron James-type player?
LeBron has an obvious edge because he's LeBron. There's no one like him. Through his first four seasons, he notched 10 triple-doubles, while George is currently at one. But George is at least comparable, which at only 23, is something.
"I do feel like one," George told the Star Tribune when asked if he felt like a superstar. "I feel like I’ve carried myself and have been playing at that level."
He most certainly has, and if he continues to do, aspirations that seem wild on the surface will inevitably become reality.
*All stats used courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.