Before the NBA Draft three years ago, an Eastern Conference scout told Yahoo! Sports this about Paul George:
"In five years, Paul George will be the best player to come out of this draft."
That will be debatable, but it also will be a worthy discussion. And when you hear criticism on how weak the upcoming draft is and how there's no talent, remember George. He wasn't chosen until 10th overall -- good but not great. Talents like him are out there; it's just a matter of finding and then developing them.
Thanks to his heroics Sunday, the Pacers have a 1-0 lead over the Hawks in their first-round playoff series. All he did was record a triple double: 23 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds.
"He's just one of the most complete players in the game," his coach, Frank Vogel, told reporters afterward.
Yes, he is. Not many players could have such a game on a night when they made just three of 13 field goals as he did. But he is complete, and he finds many ways to impact a game.
Just look at his stats for the season and how he has progressed. He made 170 3-pointers after making 131 combined his first two seasons. His scoring average has increased from 7.8 points per game as a rookie to 17.4, his rebounds from 3.7 to 7.6 and his assists from 1.1 to 4.1.
With Danny Granger's knee issues affecting Indiana all season, the Pacers should not be viewed as a threat to anyone in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to George, they remain a big obstacle for any team.
- John Keim