Is Paul George's Future Now for the Indiana Pacers?

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Is Paul George's Future Now for the Indiana Pacers?
AP PHOTO

If you aren’t a fan of the Indiana Pacers, then chances are you don’t know who Paul George is.

But it won’t be long until you are forced to take notice.

The former Fresno State Bulldog was selected 10th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Scouting reports of George coming into the draft read as if he were Tracy McGrady reincarnate, citing superior athleticism and excellent leaping ability as the primary reasons for his elevated draft stock.

His explosive jumping ability can be traced all the way back to his ESPN “Play of The Day” dunk on SportsCenter as a freshman at Fresno State in 2008.

George’s playing days at Fresno State were those of a dynamic game changer, something that Indiana Pacers fans haven’t seen since the likes of Reggie Milller.

As a rookie last season, George averaged nearly eight points and four rebounds per game in limited time, good for NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors in 2011.

He played well enough in his first season that the Pacers have already picked up the 2012-13 option on George’s contract.

ESPN.com thinks that a larger role on the team would make Paul George an immediate impact player, and a potential breakout-in-year-two candidate.

Initially I wasn’t excited about the Pacers selecting Paul George so early in the draft—I thought that they put a high price on leaping ability.

I thought that, though George was undoubtedly a spectacular athlete, he lacked consistency in his game.

George’s game is predicated on his jump shot, and as a sophomore at Fresno State, he saw his shooting average fall after a spectacular freshman season.

In addition to a decline in shooting percentage, George also showed inconsistency handling the ball, something that he’ll have to remedy if he is to reach his star potential in the NBA.

But over the course of the 2010-11, season I saw great growth in George.

At only 20 years old, George started 19 games, in which he averaged 7.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird called George “one of the five best young guys in all [of Bird's] years in the game.”

That’s high praise from a legend that has played alongside some of the greatest players in NBA history.

For Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, the time could be now—as George’s game grows, so does the Pacers’ probability of returning to the playoffs.

And he will only see more time as he matures.

Could 2011-12 mark the arrival of the next NBA superstar?

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