May 16 2013 9:35AM

King James, Prepare To Meet King George?


Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

Bill Simmons had the world's top basketball gambler Haralabos Voulgaris on his ESPN podcast last week and Voulgaris made some interesting comments about Indiana Pacer small forward Paul George.

"He's not LeBron James, but he is the closest facsimile of LeBron James that we have in basketball, which doesn't say a lot about him because there is nobody that's close to LeBron James. But by orders of magnitude, if you were to go all the way down, he's the closest facsimile to LeBron James we have. He can defend. He can rebound. He passes. He gets steals. He can't shoot as well as LeBron right now. But if you were to compare the two at age 23 (George's age), they're somewhat similar. Not really. But he's the closest facsimile we have A very, very poor man's LeBron James."

You think about it and it is so true.

Nobody in the NBA compares to LeBron James.

Granted, you have players like Kevin Durant, who is close in quality to James, but the Thunder superstar is his own separate player at this stage.

KD has different skill sets in a different package: Durant is a much better pop-a-shoot shooter in the 10-to-15-feet range; James is a much better defender; Durant is tall and lean; James is big and muscular.

Two great players. Two slightly different styles.

George, however, is an ever-evolving star-morphing-into-superstar perhaps, albeit one built in the James mode who made the All-Star team, All-Defense squad, will likely be named All-NBA and because of that earned the Most Improved Player trophy--all for the first time this season.

At 6-8, 221 pounds the 23-year-old George is the next young man in the Next Generation to do his best to replicate the game of the 6-8, 270-pound James.

Is King George as good a defender as King James now?

Yes. He has been for two seasons.

Is King George as good a rebounder as King James?

Yes. Both average 8 boards in 38 minutes per game.

Is George as good a playmaker as James?

No. James gets more assists and George makes more turnovers.

Is George as good a scorer and shooter as James?

No. Not even close. James orchestrates the NBA's No. 1 offense, scoring 27 points per game at a ridiculous .640 true shooting percentage.

THAT is where James' kingdom reigns above and beyond the empire being built by young George.

But Voulgaris' point is worth noting.

George is on his path to his own kingdom.

And who knows? In 2018, when James is 33 and George is 28, the gap indeed may be closed.

George has already established that he is a Top 15 player in my book.

Should the Pacers beat the Knicks and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, we indeed will get to see George guarding James up close.

George will have Roy Hibbert and the Indiana No. 1 defense working alongside him, so this really could become a series where George makes his mark.

The Pacers could take out the Heat three-point shooters and keep James out the paint, which could create a problem if Miami cannot overcome those Pacers staples.

Yes, the Heat faced--and defeated--the Pacers in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, 4 games to 2.

But Indiana seems better equipped to tackle the defending champs in these 2013 NBA Playoffs, mainly because of the all-around improvement in George's game, not to mention Hibbert's defensive dominance in the paint.

No one truly believes King George's Pacers will beat King James' Heat in a seven-game series, but the James-George definitely is an interesting subplot to watch in this potential Game of Thrones.