Some players showing early progress

Paul George, G-F, Indiana Pacers

Indiana’s blowout loss to the Heat was a reminder that growth comes slowly, in fits and starts, at the NBA level. George shot just 4-of-11, turned the ball over four times and looked unsure of himself as a ball-handler — a role the Pacers have asked him to play more this season.

But this kind of forced variety is good in the long run. Everyone knows by now that George has started on fire from three-point range (15-of-24 this season after shooting 29.7 percent last year), but the other stuff is just as important. Until and unless Darren Collison jumps a level, it’s important for the Pacers to have options on the perimeter. George has looked decent running occasional pick-and-rolls, he’s getting to the line a bit more, dishing more assists and even emerging as a post-up option against smaller guards — a category that includes just about every guard.

Last year, George was a defender searching for any role at all on offense. He has a role now, even if he and the team are still figuring out precisely what it is.