The opportunity is right there. He’s the number one guy in charge now with Kawhi Leonard out for a significant portion of the season.
George got some experience playing without Leonard under the brightest lights in the postseason last year, and is going to be more than ready to take on the challenge.
The thing is, we’ve already seen his floor. PG13 can get even better, though. We haven’t seen PG’s ceiling.
Paul George’s floor this year is what he showed last year in the postseason for the LA Clippers without Leonard.
That’s what Paul George’s floor is because I know he could have done better for the LA Clippers. Sure, PG averaged 29.6 points per game, 11 boards a game, 5.6 assists per game, and 1.4 steals per game. If that’s the version of George that we’ll get this year, I’ll take it.
But I know PG could have been even better. He put up great averages, but also shot just 30.4% from deep and missed some clutch free throws in the Western Conference Finals.
There was so much pressure on George that he was put into situations where he had to shoot the most crucial of crucial free throws, and had to create so many buckets from three with defenses throwing as much as they could at him. And they could throw a lot at him with Leonard not in the picture.
George was absolutely smothered every game from behind the arc after Leonard went down. He now has the experience of dealing with that extra attention, and is going to make the right adjustments this year.
He’s coached by Ty Lue, who is the best coach in basketball when it comes to making adjustments.
Lue is going to get him right in all areas. That includes defense, where George was already exceptional in that stretch.
He can be even better, though. The last time George was a First-Team All-Defensive player, he averaged 2.2 steals per game and was the steal champ (2018-2019). So I know for a fact that PG can be better.
Yes, it’ll be tougher on George defensively now that he’s got to man the toughest assignment on the court with Leonard not out there. But again, he just played eight games against the top two seeds last year in the postseason without Leonard.
If PG can improve his three-point shooting, and step up even further, I could totally see him having a 33/11(R)/6 season with two steals per game. That would be a slight improvement in his assist number (his improved shooting would free up more scoring opportunities for teammates he can pass to), it would be the same rebound mark he had without Leonard in the postseason, it would be almost a three-point increase in his point average (again, if he can just hit one more three every game it’ll go a long way), and it would get him back to averaging a couple steals a game.
These are MVP-type numbers if he can lead this team to a top four seed without Kawhi. And yes, if he plays like this, the Clips will be a top four team in the West.
We saw him play last year without our franchise player, but he can be even better. We’ve only seen his floor. There’s little limit, however, to what his ceiling could be this season.