Frank Vogel took over head coaching duties for the Indiana Pacers during Paul George’s rookie season. Over the next five years, the two formed a strong bond both on and off the court, but they'll no longer have the opportunity to build upon the former.
Vogel finished with a 250-181 record for the Pacers (a .580 winning percentage) and made the playoffs five times during his six years at the helm. The one time he missed the postseason was in 2014-15, when George only played six games as he recovered from a broken leg he suffered during the previous offseason.
George did more than just win games under Vogel. He developed from a rookie who averaged 7.8 points per game to a three-time All-Star and a two-time member of an All-NBA team. He showed constant improvement under his former coach outside of his injury-marred 2014-15 campaign:
|Paul George's Per-Game Stats|
George and Vogel's most notable battles occurred in the postseason against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. The Heat eliminated the Pacers in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 playoffs, but they needed at least six games every time as George—who has been on two NBA All-Defensive Teams—frequently hounded James on the defensive end.
George was far from the only Pacers player to develop under Vogel. Big man Roy Hibbert was a two-time All-Star, point guard George Hill went from the San Antonio Spurs’ bench to an important starter and Lance Stephenson became a two-way force during his tenure with Indiana.
While the Pacers front office was likely disappointed with this year’s first-round exit against the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors, it will have a difficult time finding a new coach who is as adept at molding talent as Vogel was during his six seasons in charge.
George’s Instagram post is a testament to how much the former coach meant to his players, especially his franchise superstar.