Michael Tillery: Coach talk about the talent that is Paul George.
Frank Vogel: His talents are significant. Heís got star potential. Heís 6í9″. Heís got great length with his arms. Heís got a knack defensively to use his hands. (Since weíre in Philly) Heís on the level of an Eddie Jones or Allen Iverson with his ability to anticipate and steal the basketballÖdeflect the basketball. Thatís serving him very well on the defensive endÖallowing him to guard ones, twos or threes. He guarded Derrick Rose in the playoffs last year and did a tremendous job.
Offensively heís really come. We were just trying to get him to keep defenses honest with his jumper. He really worked on his jump shot this off season. Heís shooting (at the time) over 60% right now. Iím sure he wonít sustain that but itís still a very positive sign. Heís really our most willing passer. He puts it on the deck, uses pick and rolls and makes smart decisions and he can post. Heís great in the open court. Weíre very very high on him. The sky is the limit. Weíre excited to see what heís going to turn out to be.
MT: Coach Vogel spoke very highly of you. Coming into the league, people were very aware of your skill set and potential but you somehow were relatively unknown to fans. Now that everything has come into play, everybody is beginning to whisperÖPaul George.
Whatís that like?
Paul George: It has its pressure that it gives you, but I think thatís the pressure that keeps me working. Itís the pressure I want. I wanna be known on the court as the kid that can create and play, can score and defendÖrebound and do all of those things. Iím happy with the pressure I put on myself now.
MT: You speak of versatility. What were some of the things you did to implement that versatility?
PG: I was always around team basketball. Since Iíve grown up, it always has been more than my shine. I like having players around me that I can get going. Itís always been a team atmosphere. I was shorter. I was a guard, but I was shorter at the time. Thatís where my guard skills came from. I shot up to this size now. Just thankful I have the same abilities.
MT: When did you get a growth spurt?
PG: I grew three inches two summers straight. I was 6í3″ on summer, the next I was 6í6″ and now Iím 6í9″ so in that two year span I got most of my growth.
MT: I spoke with Lance and Tyler (be on the lookout for their interviews) about you having this young team thatís full of talent. Itís a different type of dynamic we are used to reporting on but itís older teams that seem to gel through free agency and such. This team is relatively young with a chance of becoming very very good. It has to be excitingÖ
PG: Yeah itís exciting. Everyone in this locker room wants to get better. We donít have any egotistical guys. We all enjoy working and getting better with each other. Thatís just simply said.
(Jeff Fosterís locker is next to Paulís so I thought Iíd shout out the cagey veteran)
MT: Whenever I talk to Metta World Peace, he speaks of Jeff Foster. Being a veteran holdover with battle tested playoff (53 games) experience, what do you all pick up from him or what does he impress upon you and the rest of the younger cats?
PG: There is so much to learn from Foster. Heís probably the best teammate to have. The energyÖthe toughness. Itís good to have someone in the front court thatís willing to be the enforcer. Thatís the guy in Foster. Heís just a great dude.
MT: In your soul, when did you know you were going to be an NBA player?
PG: My freshman year in college I knew I had the chance to become a professional. I got a big dunk that happened to be on ESPNÖ
and thatís what really put me on the map.
MT: Tremendous athletic ability. Hereditary?
PG: No not really. My Mom was probably a better athlete than my Dad. She played volleyball and also was a gymnast. I have a sister (Teiosha) that played professional basketball and another sister that played college volleyball (Portala, who played for CSU San Bernardino). I think it was more in our genes as siblings.
MT: Doing research, I didnít find anything else on your but basketball. Was it always basketball?
PG: It was always basketball. Iíve never played any other sport but basketball.
MT: Interesting because a lot of versatile players I come across in many sports played multiple sports. Was it days where you said Iím going to get better at defense, shooting the weak side jumper or using my left hand. I want to give readers a sense of why you put such a priority on becoming a all around player.
PG: Oh ok. I see what youíre saying. Iím a very self motivated person. Every day I practice I want to get betterÖeven on off days. I want to come in and at the very least get a workout in. I watched the greats. I watch Kobe. I watch LeBron. I like watching those guys operate. I like watching NBA games to see the moves that they use, how they get open. Iím just a student of the game. The versatility comes from me being observant of other guys, taking it to the gym and working on those same moves.
MT: Speak of the team. Something similar is going on in the other locker room with Doug Collins implementing his systemÖhis routine and the team is responding and gelling together. I see the same thing over here. You get a sense of it walking into the locker room.
PG: Yeah. I think for both teamsÖweíre young talented teams. I think what we share in common is enjoying each other. Same here. Everyone is pulling for one another. Everyone is trying to make each other better at practice. This is a team thatís willing to work together. Like I said earlier, thereís no egos. We donít have to worry about guys not getting along. Everyone is cool here and that is what makes it better.
MT: Has Danny (Granger) pulled you aside? What is the impact heís had on you?
PG: Danny means a lot. Iíve been working out with Danny for almost two years now. During the draft process and this past summer during the lockout I worked with him.
Heís been like a big brother. Heís been a mentor. Teaching me the ins and outs. The mid post area. Shooting. Spotting up. Taking contact. Danny has helped a lot and I hope to continue to work with him.
MT: Why did you think you flew under the radar but again really didnít? Does that make sense?
PG: Oh definitely. Youíre absolutely right. I went to a mid major. A team that doesnít get a lot of pubÖat all at Fresno State. I really wasnít seen. Iíve always been under the radar. Even in AAU ball. I really didnít get that shine but it took a good team to find me and now itís time to show the world what I really can do and also do whatever I have to do to help my team win.