A Tough Act to Follow
The Pacers‘ Paul George had an incredible 2015-16 season. Coming off a gruesome leg injury, he still averaged 23 points and 7 rebounds a game last year. Throw in the fact that he was again one of the league’s top defenders, and you can see the challenge he faces in improving on his body of work.
But George is capable of much more. He has the potential this season to climb into the league’s top six or seven players. So what needs to happen for him to take his place among the league’s elite?
Get Better Shots
George shot 42% from the field last year overall. It’s not a terrible number by today’s league standards, but it’s an area that needs improvement for him to reach the next level. Too many times last year, George was forced to hoist up a shot late in the clock after Indiana’s offense again bogged down.
Hopefully, the additions of true point guard Jeff Teague and consistent scorer Thaddeus Young will allow George to get shots in the flow of the offense. That alone will increase his scoring average a few points.
Pacing Himself is Key
George was an MVP candidate over the first half of last season, but faded a bit as fatigue took over in March and April. Some of this was the time he missed due to the leg injury. This seems to have resolved itself, but his defensive responsibilities seemed to wear on him as well.
If the coaching staff finds a way to spell George defensively, he will have the stamina necessary to duplicate his early season numbers for the long haul.
For George to improve, he has to get more help from his supporting cast. He can help them help him by being more assertive on court and in the locker room. It was a role he was forced into last year with the departure of David West, and the results were understandably mixed.
Once George settles more comfortably into the role of team leader, he will find that his own improvement happens more or less automatically. With a better supporting cast, George will finally have the status to match his talent.