Paul George: Is Ridiculous Upside Potential Enough?


I’m sure you are all aware that the Spurs had Paul George in for a workout recently. Why am I sure, because let’s face it, the site is clearly the fourth most popular Spurs blog written by three or few people. So it’s no doubt to saw that news reported elsewhere. You also probably saw that he worked out against Xavier Henry whom we have covered previously in this space. Rumor has it that Henry was better than George in that session.

Photo Courtesy of YardBarker

After a tremendous freshman season, many people expected nothing but great things from the man with two first names. By and large, that’s what we delivered this past NCAA season; however things weren’t all honey and milk. The two biggest changes in his game between freshman and sophomore years came at the arc and the charity stripe respectively. During his inaugural season as a college player George shot almost 45% from behind the arc, but only about 70% at the line, but during this second go’round those numbers flip-flopped and he was a 90% free-throw shooter but only hit 36% of his threes.

This presents an interesting dilemma, which is he: good from distance or not, good at the line or not? If you take a closer look, you’ll see that most likely what happened with his three-point shot was a case of trying to do too much by himself. It’s no secret that Fresno State isn’t what one would call a basketball power house, and Paul was head-n-shoulders above his team mates when it came to court skills. As a result, during the 2009-2010 season he often resorted to shots early in the clock rather than leaning on his team mates a bit more. In fact, he took almost two more threes per game in his sophomore season over his freshman year. The problem with that his that George possesses a decent amount of court vision logging about three assists per game from the small forward slot. If he passes on jacking up one of those shots maybe the Bulldogs score one more basket a game, which could have been enough to win two or three more games last year.

Most people that I’ve read believe Paul George to be a good spot up shooter, with a quick release and excellent range and that off the dribble his shot suffers. That could also be a source of the decline in his shooting percentages, as during his first year he was less a focus of the opposition allowing him to pick is spots a bit more.

The other thing that he has going for him is an ability to put himself in position to make transition baskets. If your expectation is that he lead a fast break, you will be disappointed; next to a speedy point guard or crafty off guard willing to push the ball, however you will find one or two highlight worthy jams per contest.

Baseline dunk by Paul George

Defensively, George has the physical attributes to be a solid wing-stopper with excellent length [ED. – 6’-11” wingspan, 8’-11” standing reach] and atleticsm. In addition, he shows excellent anticipation recording roughly 2 steals, one block, and 7 rebounds a game. He does still have some fundamentals to learn on this end including proper stance and ability to read plays, but again the tools are there.

The current NBA players he is compared to in terms of style and skills are Al Thornton, Wilson Chandler, Trevor Ariza, and Danny Granger, players that every one of us would love to have on the Spurs. It should be noted that he has made these impressions playing against somewhat weak competition in the WAC, and will have some adjuting to do in the NBA. He could also use some muscle on his frame [ED. – 6’-8”, 214#’s] to make it through the more physical 48 minutes of professional ball.

In summation, Paul George looks to be the type of player that the Spurs could use. He can run the wings on the break, spot up for threes, and hopefully learn to play some solid NBA level defense. At least that’s the upside potential he presents. His final draft spot will depend a great deal on his workouts and presentation at this year’s combine. Most mocks put him right in the range of the Spurs’ #20 slot, but a lot can happen between now and June 24th.