xBulletproof mentioned this in another thread but I'd been thinking it deserved it's own discussion since the jump is so significant.
Right now I can't post the graphs (I'll add later), but his per game average (the running average) and per 36 min average have been trending up all season.
Specifically starting with the 5 steals game vs DAL he went from hovering around 1.10-1.20 per game and 1.30-1.40 per 36 minutes to his current level of 1.78 per game and 2.09 per 36. It's a noticeable slope and represents a period well above his career average prior to this climb.
What is facilitating that climb is a 19 game stretch where he has averaged 2.47/gm and 2.88/36min!
But even on top of that he's managed to pick up the pace a 2nd time. In the last 7 games he's averaged a MONSTER 3.43 per game and 4.26 per 36 minutes.
10 of the last 19 games are 3+ steals games for him.
Here are the seasons leaders in STL/Gm
2.31 C Paul
1.88 Iguodala (SF)
1.82 K Lowry
1.80 Lebron (SF)
1.79 T Allen (SG)
3 SF/SGs ahead of him and we all know that Allen is not the same size/type of SG as Paul. Only Iggy and Lebron fit as true big wings like Paul. The others spend most of their time defending the dribble.
STL/36 (15 minutes or more played, everyone here is at least 23mpg)
2.42 T Allen
2.28 C Paul
2.07 K Leonard (this is why you didn't need him, you have George)
2.03 GEORGE (slight rounding errors in minutes played)
Only small guards ahead of him here except for the rookie Kawhi, and Kawhi is the lowest in mpg on the list (23, next lowest is 26)
Now go back and look at the last 19 and 7 numbers:
Leader is Paul at 2.54
George at 2.47
George is at 3.43
Leader is Conley at 2.54
George is at 2.88
George is at 4.26
Admittedly I need to go look at the last 7/19 for these other guys, or look for their best 7 or 19 game streaks period. Maybe this is the norm. Maybe Conley has 3 steals in 10 out of 19 games all the time. But it seems likely to me that RIGHT NOW Paul George is the best steals defender in the league.
No one is reading the defensive end at his level.
And those last 7 games INCLUDE the games @CHI, ATL, @MIA and @ORL. This isn't getting fat on chumps, this is doing it to everyone.
If Paul continues either of these paces for the final 26 games you get these per game totals...
19 game pace = 2.05 to end season
7 game pace = 2.43 to end season
He could end up being top 3-4 in steals in the league, and maybe even #1 in qualified minutes steals per 36.
btw, take a look at the blocks numbers for all those steals leaders. Lebron is at 0.9, T Allen is at 0.6, Iggy is at 0.5
Paul is at 0.6
All the other guards are 0.2 or 0.1 guys.
Paul likely will get named to one of the all-defensive teams this year I suspect.