George's Award His First, But Won't Be Last
by Scott Agness
December 17, 2012
The NBA has taken notice of the week Paul George just had.
The Pacers' 2010 first-round draft pick was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the first Pacers player to earn that honor since Danny Granger in 2007-08.
Since his scoreless performance in Golden State on December 1, George has taken his play to another level. Last week, he averaged 23.3 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game. And most importantly, the Pacers went 3-0 during that stretch.
"The funny thing about that is, a lot of times players put up numbers to earn player of the week or player of the month or whatever and it doesn’t speak anything about what they do on the defensive end," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel pointed out.
It's the first real honor for the third-year player, and likely a stepping stone to more significant awards.
In his first season, he was voted on the All-Rookie Second team. The next year, he took part in the Rising Stars challenge, a game during All-Star weekend between the best rookie and second-year players. This award holds extra meaning because it's his first while competing against other top Eastern Conference foes – the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Deron Williams.
"[Being Player of the Week] really is a credit to the team and how well we’ve been playing," George said. "Our offense just feels comfortable for myself—especially playing the 3 now. I feel like I have the matchup pretty much the whole night where I can use my quickness and size."
With the way Paul George is playing, he’s beginning to warrant serious consideration for a spot on the All-Star team (Vote Online). A multi-faceted player, George has already set personal game-high records this season in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Those numbers should only continue to be upped. But more than that, he’s become an integral part of a winning team, always guards the opponent’s best player and yet still puts up big numbers—all while playing nearly 39 minutes a night.
"He’s becoming the best defensive wing player in the NBA as well," Coach Vogel said, "on top of what he’s doing on the offensive end. He’s a big part of why we’re number one in so many defensive categories."
"It’s really just the team—guys knocking shots down, helping me with assists, being able to rebound," George said. “And I’m happy shots are starting to fall.”
When the team needed a guy to step up, he welcomed the challenged. And when he wasn't happy with his poor and inconsistent play, he willingly fought through it and made changes.
"It’s a tremendous sign of how much he’s growing," Vogel said.
Paul George is just 22 years old. He’s made great strides this season with his maturity, work ethic and offensive game. Where he goes from here is completely up to him. George’s future appears very, very bright.
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