I remember reading a few posts last season around the web about how the Indiana Pacers will benefit from trading Danny Granger, already on the decline according to them, and letting Paul George take over his roles, being the bigger potential and the future of the team. Now Danny Granger is out for three months, and it’s really up to George to try and make up for all the lost points and more.
Granger, who still hasn’t played a single game this season, averaged 18.7 points last season for the Indiana Pacers. He averaged over 20 points per game for the team for three straight seasons. Paul George, for the potential people keep speaking, and is suddenly playing 10 more minutes per game than he did last season (39.8 a night, compared with 29.7), isn’t doing much better as he progresses, despite the added responsibility.
He’s averaging only 13.8 points per game (instead of 12.1 from last season) while taking a lot more shots, in horrible percentage (40.3%). He hasn’t scored more than 16 points in a single game. The Pacers are thinking about taking over the second spot in the East this season, and a big part of their plans was George becoming one of the best shooting guards in the league, or on his way to becoming one.
He worked a lot during this summer on actually creating his own shots, but it’s still not there. The one thing Danny Granger does much better than George is put the ball on the floor, and create his own shots. George, one of the most gifted players in terms of athletic ability in the NBA, simply becomes a non factor when he has to get the ball on the perimeter and create his own shot.
He can dunk and play well on the open court as well as any one, but his decision making combined with his inability to make his own shot creates a big problem of scoring for the Pacers, scoring over 90 points only once this season so far.
The Pacers surprised a lot of people last season by becoming one of the best teams in the East, but George was a wing player taking advantage of opportunities created for him; he wasn’t a go to guy that was supposed to lead the team in scoring. So far, the Pacers are 27th in the NBA in scoring with 90 points per game and 29th with only 17.2 assists per game. Their leading scorer? David West, with 17.4 per game. George is actually leading the team in rebounds (9.8) and steals (1.6), but that’s not what the Pacers need from him now.
On defense, where the Pacers are doing quite well so far (9th in the NBA in points allowed), George’s athleticism is enough to make him one of the best on the team. Like the Chicago Bulls, the Pacers need to start finding ways to create more point off their defense; make it a faster paced game with less half court offense, because right now, basing their offense on hoping Paul George figures it out in how to become a creator and scorer isn’t leading them to the places they saw themselves at when the season began.