Don’t Look Now, but Here Comes Paul George
Steph Curry sure is getting a lot of attention right now. Opposing defenses are jumping out of their skin every time Steph raises his eyebrows and NBA fans around the world can’t take their eyes off the newly crowned “Best Player in the World” and his unbeatable Golden State Warriors. And for great reason, what Curry is doing is nothing short of spectacular. Curry’s command of the ball, his flair and creativity, combined with his out-of-the-gym shooting range and accuracy is truly something the NBA has never seen before. With the whole world’s attention on Steph Curry and the Warriors, it might be easy to miss that Paul George is developing into a scary and dynamic player in his own right. George, is just 25 years old and coming off a serious leg injury that stole almost all of last season, and in case you missed it, has become the Eastern Conference’s version of Kevin Durant. The 6’8″ Eastern Conference Player of the Month in November, has embraced his new role in the Pacers new “small ball” system and his production has done nothing but increase. He is posting career high averages in scoring (27.9), rebounding (8.1), assists (4.3), and Three-Point Shooting (44.8%). His averages compare favorably to Durant’s 28.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. He is also shooting a high volume of threes and has more Three-Pointers Made (69) than any player not named Steph.
What George is doing from behind the arc at such a young age, is even more impressive when you compare him to the other dominant primary attackers of the last decade. This graph shows Three-Point Percentage by NBA season for Kobe, Lebron, Durant, George, Curry, and Harden. Steph Curry is the outlier as expected. However, George is the only player to cross over Curry’s line. In other words, only what Paul George is doing this year (his 6th NBA season) exceeds what Curry has done in that same season from behind the arc. Not even Kevin Durant has done that. I know what you are going to say, that George is exceeding Curry’s percentage only in the year that Curry also set the all-time record for Three-Pointers Made in a single season. But consider this, this season George is averaging 3.5 three-pointers made per game and in Curry’s record breaking season last year, he averaged 3.6.
I’m not saying that we all stop watching the Warriors and Steph Curry, because what they are accomplishing is truly historic. What I am saying that we need to keep one eye on what Paul George is becoming while the world isn’t watching.