This was posted in the Thunderdome section. Given the fact that we actually drafted Paul and T-Bird's astute assessment of him, that he was the guy we should draft, given certain circumstances, I think he not only did a great job of analysis, but in figuring out how effective he could be as a Pacer and why he should have been the guy we picked.
I hope it's okay for me to repost this for all to see a little easier and discuss, since comments couldn't be made on the original article
Tbird 2010 draft analysis #7: Paul George
By thunderbird1245, on June 16th, 2010
Tonight we continue our study of potential 2010 draftees, focusing now on the sharp shooting forward from Fresno State, Paul George. In previous editions in this years series weve looked at Greg Monroe, Patrick Patterson, Avery Bradley, Ed Davis, Hassan Whiteside, and Ekpe Udoh .you can find those profiles elsewhere on Pacers digest.
A big thank you to my friends in the western part of the country who helped provide me with some film of Fresno State, obviously living here in Bloomington Fresno games werent readily available to tape. Without all the help from all my spies, this series wouldnt be nearly as thorough as it is currently.
George is the first purely wing player that I have chosen to post on here, but a few more are to come in the following days. Contrary to popular belief, I think this is a pretty good wing draft, and really good value can be found in the middle part of the first round or earlier with many of the pure wing players slated to go around that time.
Without further ado, lets take an in depth study of Paul George.
Paul George has a very good basketball body, slender and sleek, which greatly influences how his game has evolved. Checking in at just a shade under 69″, he weighs a svelte 214lbs with extremely low body fat. He also has very long arms, with a wingspan almost 70″.
Having just turned 20 years old on May 2. George has plenty of room to grow into his body. Whoever drafts George would be well served to make sure he is well taken care of from a diet and strength standpoint, as he will need a specific program tailored for him in order to add strength and some muscle. George and his agent need to make sure he invests in his body on his own, making sure he eats correctly and grows his body in the proper way.
Flexibility is going to be a key for George more than adding weight though I dont see George developing into some bruising specimen. He needs to get stronger in his core and his legs, and be able to bend more easily than he does currently, as he plays way too upright, especially when he is tired.
Having said that, I like Georges body structure, and think he clearly is a plus athlete who can compete at this level with the best athletes in the world, especially as he fills out in the next 2-3 years.
I really like Paul Georges potential as a strong defender at this level. He will have a distinct size and length advantage over most 3′s in the league, and he shows good potential in being able to use that to really influence an opponents jump shots, forcing them to change their shot to get the ball over his outstretched hands.
I do have to use the word potential in that last paragraph, because on tape George only contests shots as well as he should about 1/2 of the time. When he did it, he was a force defensively, but sometimes he played somewhat conservatively and allowed people to shoot without getting his arms up. He needs more concentration and focus, and he needs a staff that will demand that of him. He clearly has the natural gifts to be a strong defender at the NBA level, but he has to apply those gifts to his play consistently.
On the ball, George is usually in the right place, trying to do the right thing. He plays too upright in his slide, which gets him off balance against really quick drivers. His legs get stiff and he gets up out of his stance, which is another reason why sometimes guys who are smaller can still shoot over him, as he doesnt slide balanced enough to lift his hands quickly. Like I mentioned in the first part of this piece, gaining flexibility in his legs will greatly help him become a high level defender, because the raw material is there to work with no question.
In spurts on tape, you see him really turn it on defensively. When focused on that aspect of his game, he can really anticipate things well, has really quick hands in getting deflections, can block shots when balanced, and has good instincts. When he does that, he looks like a potential defensive stopper, but you didnt see it all the time on film. I think a large part of this inconsistency was lack of concentration (typical 19 year old stuff) and lack of elite conditioning. At the NBA level, he will both play less minutes and have less responsibility early in his career, so pacing himself shouldnt be a long term issue. It will be his own responsibility, and that of his head coach and training staff, to make sure he gets in elite condition to play. If he does that, I see no reason why Paul George cant be a very very good NBA defensive player, capable of guarding a variety of different types.
He wont be great at defending guys who run through a million screens, but he will be a potential stopper of guys who just try and go off the dribble. He will be able to influence their shots from the perimeter due to his length, and that length will allow him to play a step further off than most people can, keeping drivers in front of him. He will also be a terrific defender in screen/roll situations, both against the dribbler and the screener.
I think if Paul George can learn to play lower to the ground with more flexibility, he can be one of the top wing defenders in the league. He wont be that right away, but by age 22 or 23 he will be, in my judgment.
Rebounding isnt the focus of his game, or of any pure wing for that matter, but George still projects to me as an above average rebounder for his position.
George can flat sky, and he runs the floor very well. He will get transition rebounds, and he will get rebounds above the rim instead of below it. He isnt an awesome board guy, and sometimes clever/stronger guys can move him right under the rim, causing balls to sail right over his head. Again, better balance and playing in a lower stance while blocking out would solve alot of that.
Despite not having great technique as a rebound guy, his natural gifts allowed him in college to average over 7 boards a night. Considering that much of his time was spent on the perimeter on both ends, I think that is an impressive number. Now, depending on who he is playing with and who he is guarding, the numbers he averages in the NBA may fluctuate some. But clearly to me he is just too long and too athletic for his position not to be one of the better rebounding wings in the league, especially on a per minute basis.
On offense, his game was hindered quite a bit I felt by some not very good teammates at Fresno State.
What George can and cannot do right now both stand out.
George is an extremely good perimeter shooter. When George actually takes good shots, he is money. Too often for this team he took some bad attempts, when his teammates left him out to dry up against the clock.
He has great form, a very good high release, and excellent footwork. When he can catch the ball already facing the basket, George is a lethal 3 point shooter from the college line, and I think moving back a little will be absolutely no problem for him. He isnt quite as good when he has to turn/pivot into his shot, but he still is ok there. But he doesnt always keep good balance in those situations, so I dont project him as a guy youll want to run off screens to free up. But he will be a great spot up guy in both the halfcourt and in transition.
George at this moment lacks the ballhandling skills to be an elite alpha dog type wing. He cant get all the way to the rim and beat the defense and score thru contact .he is likely to lose the ball in traffic or at least be forced to take a tough shot. I dont view this as likely to change, but he might be able to get slightly better off the dribble when he gets stronger, more experienced, and learns to play lower. His dribble being too high again goes back to his lack of flexibility in his lower body, and his tendency to play too high.
I do think he can do something many many players cant though, and that is make a 1 or 2 dribble move and make a mid range jumper. George doesnt need much space to get his shot off, as his length and high release make him almost unblockable. That means that he will occasionally be able to make a tough shot when your offense breaks down, because he gets off the ground so well and has such strong shooting mechanics. He can do the rocker step and the pull up going in each direction right now. The ability to make a guarded shot is very very handy when playing in big games.
His ability to shoot can hurt him though too, because it makes him be lazy with the ball too often, and not take the ball to the rim as much as he should. He needs to get a better shot fake, and then get more aggressive in taking the ball to the paint. George hits a high percentage of foul shots, but he needs to get his dribble moves down so he can get to line for easy points. He definitely can be a lazy shooter at times too, not getting his knees bent as the ball is coming toward him, instead waiting to do that after he catches it. He is so tall and long that he gets away with it some, but fundamentally just that one improvement in that skill could add so much to his overall game it would be unreal. He is very fast when he catches the ball on the move, but when he catches from a standing position he takes too long to get going and beat his man .as mentioned several times before, learning to play lower would solve this problem and make him an even tougher cover.
George is going to be a force on an up tempo team, as he has a very good ability to get out and run. Some guys are lane fillers, some guys are creators and some guys are spot up shooters. George is a nice player because he can both fill a lane and finish (as long as you give it to him late so he doesnt have to handle it much) with dunks, or he can hang back a bit and hit from long distance. You dont want George to have to make many decisions on the run with the ball, but he can definitely finish the play in a variety of ways. Some of his dunks are highlight material, and he likely becomes a fan favorite early in his career, and maybe a slam dunk contest potential competitor.
He isnt a selfish player at all, in fact he is quite willing to pass. He isnt creative and he wont be a drive/dump pass guy, but he will make the extra pass to his teammates in the right spot.
He also is a very good post feeder I think, though Fresno didnt have much going on the block this past year. He held the ball high over his head, fed the ball to the correct target hand, dribbled to get angles when he needed to, and did a solid job in feeding the post .which will likely be one of his main roles depending on who drafts him.
If I were running a team that drafted George, Id want him to develop some back to the basket skills. Many teams will have match up problems with him, but will be able to get away with putting smaller guys on him occasionally if he doesnt develop that. He needs to be able to be a post up option for someone if matchups dictate. If he can add that to his game (Im not sure he can) then he becomes even more of a tough guy to guard.
The fact that he is very inexperienced, yet shows such skill already, makes me very bullish on him. What he needs more than anything is really really good coaching, and time to develop for a little while.
So, what do we have in the under the radar, little known Paul George?
I think weve got a really solid player who will be a starter on high quality teams in his career. Maybe not immediately, but very soon. He is well rounded, and can contribute big time in many many ways on both ends of the floor. He can be an elite sharp shooter, and he can be a big time man to man defender. Only a lack of ball handling skills and some fundamentals keeps him from being an All Star, and he still has enough time on his side that he could develop that part of his game as well.
George offers some potential positional flexibility in the right situation. if you have a team with a big time post presence, you can play George as a small perimeter 4 man if you want to. And he will be able to guard such players all over the league, which is something our Pacers sometimes cant do well along with many other teams.
I think he can guard certain 2′s, almost all 3′s, and some 4′s, all at an above average level. And I think he can be an ideal type sniper to play on the perimeter in the halfcourt and make big 3 point shots, and hell hit transition bombs as well as score as a finisher on the break. He looks like a very valuable player on a very good team, capable of doing alot of different things.
George fits best on a team with a ball dominant wing or point guard who can drive and pitch the ball to him, an up tempo team where he can run the floor alot, or on a team with a big time post presence where he can space the floor and feed the ball to said player.
George is actually the ideal type player to put next to a Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade type a plus defender who can space and run the floor. He likely wont end up on a team like that however, nor will he end up with a team with an established post player hed fit well with, like a Dwight Howard or Yao Ming perhaps.
Hed also fit well with a team who runs the triangle offense, which wouldnt ask him to handle the ball as much as some other schemes would.
George would be a great fit for Chicago at #17, Miami at #18, or Oklahoma City at #21. He also fits well with Milwaukee at #15, Memphis at #12, or New Orleans at #11. I also think hed be a great fit for the Clippers at #8, playing with Eric Gordon, Baron Davis, and Blake Griffin.
If the Clippers pass, then George will likely be there for Indiana at #10. How would George fit in Indiana?
I actually like George quite a bit as you can tell. I think he would be a big upgrade long term over the timid Brandon Rush, and I think in our current system hed let Indiana play a smaller lineup that would be interesting and hard to guard: Price (or another better PG), Rush, Granger, George, and Hibbert would have alot of strengths as a unit, though not a championship contender by any means. For Indiana, George and Granger could play along side each other in a small lineup, or George could rotate with Danny and Brandon to form a three headed wing tandem that could be set far into the future.
I think there is a very strong chance that a wing player will be the best player available for Indiana at #10, as I rate this entire class of wings as better than advertised and under appreciated.
George isnt a perfect fit, but unless someone unexpected falls, he may very well be the best player available. And if that is the case, I think you take him and be thankful you got a high quality long term impact guy, no matter the criticism you may receive.
I doubt that Indianas front office is as high on George as I am, so I view him as an unlikely selection for us to make and keep. I think Bird and Morway will view his as replicating Danny Granger too much. I think that line of reasoning is idiotic, but that is just me.
I do however think there is a strong chance George will be a major target to trade up and get for the teams mentioned above. I think George is a great fit for New Orleans right behind us, so teams behind them who want to jump in front of them will have to deal with us. I expect George will be the guy most of them target, so if a deal is to be made for us to move downward Paul George will likely be involved in it. If Chicago does in fact add Lebron James to go with Derrick Rose, George would be an absolute great fit with those 2 guys .I can see the Bulls being the most aggressive of the teams trying to move up to get him. If Miami ends up with Wade and Stoudamire, hed fit very well with them as well, so the Heat might deal. And Milwaukee would be a great fit as a long term replacement for Michael Redd, so George can play long term with Jennings and Bogut.
I could be wrong, but I think Paul George will be a major topic of conversation on draft night, especially if he gets past the Clippers .who I really do believe will take him, making that last paragraph moot.
Who does George compare to?
Modern comparable: somewhere between Trevor Ariza and Shawn Marion
Past comparable: Dan Majerle
Once again, thank you for reading this post, and I look forward to reading the debate that no doubt will follow about Paul George, who along with Greg Monroe is my favorite player I have profiled so far this year.
I still have many players to follow, so we will have to wait and see what my opinions are when my profile work is complete.
As always, the above is just my opinion.