Do the LA Clippers have the best version of Paul George?

Paul George, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Paul George, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

Throughout Paul George’s decade-plus-long career, the multiple-time All-Star has changed both his game and role frequently. But which of those iterations was the best version of George?

Decked out in a light tan suit, complemented by a baby blue button-up shirt, George was all smiles when he walked across the stage to shake David Stern’s hand during the 2010 NBA Draft. The Indiana Pacers brass drooled over George as they quickly nabbed him with their 10th overall pick.

George’s first year in the league was underwhelming, averaging just 7.8 points per game. But as his role increased, becoming a full-time starter in year two, George has become one of the game’s best players. Fresh off his first season in which he would average over 20 points per game in year four, George suffered a cataclysmic injury.

During a freak play amid a Team USA scrimmage, George’s left leg was nearly severed in half as he went up in an attempt to block a layup. Needless to say, at the age of 24, George’s NBA future became entangled in gut-wrenching doubt. Ultimately, through perseverance and a never say die attitude, George eventually made his way back to the court.

Not only has George ostensibly returned to form, but he appears better than ever. That said, Patrick Beverley believes otherwise.

During a discussion with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Beverley was asked by the bombastic reporter if Devin Booker should be viewed as on the same level as George. An incredulous Beverley conceded that Smith’s comments had merit, depending on which version of George he was ultimately talking about.

“Which Paul George? Let’s compare Indiana Paul George with Devin Booker, not even close. Prime Paul George? No.”

Beverley’s comments would suggest that since leaving the team that initially drafted him, George’s play has become somewhat vagarious and declined, statements we wholeheartedly disagree with.

As we juxtapose George’s regular season numbers to his following two stops, including in LA, George has continually gotten better and better.

Let’s check Paul George’s numbers in each of his stops

  • Indiana Pacers stats: 18.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 43.2 fg%, 37.0 3p%
  • Oklahoma City Thunder stats: 25.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.7 apg, 43.4 fg%, 39.2 3p%
  • LA Clippers stats: 22.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 44.5 fg%, 39.8 3p%

When we dig even deeper and unveil George’s numbers underneath the bright lights of playoff action, were once again perplexed by Beverley’s comments.

  • Indiana Pacers postseason stats: 19 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4 apg
  • Oklahoma City Thunder postseason stats: 24.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.7 apg,
  • LA Clippers postseason stats: 26.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 apg

Even George’s offensive and defensive Win Shares numbers have been fairly comparable. During the 2013-14 season, George finished the season with 6.4 Defensive Win Shares. His next closes took place in Oklahoma City during the 2018-19 season, where he would finish the year with 4.9. His two best Win Share seasons on the offensive end would come during the 2013-14 season and 2018-19 season, finishing both years with 10.8 and 11.9 respectively.

At the age of 31, George is still silky smooth on the court and a defensive menace when guarding on the perimeter. George isn’t quite the tenacious on-ball defender that he once was, failing to make an All-Defensive team since nabbing a spot following the 2018-19 season but he isn’t a complete shell of himself on that end either.

Offensively, on the other hand, George is as polished as ever. With a trip to the NBA Finals on the line during the 2021 playoffs, and without Kawhi Leonard standing beside him, George terrorized the Phoenix Suns. George would go on to average 28.7 points a night, 10.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in six games.

“Indiana Paul George”, as Beverley refers to, is an overblown fixture of his imagination. During the infancy stages of his career, George was a terrific young player. At this point, however, George has become an otherworldly talent, capable of leading his own teams on deep postseason runs, while dueling against the best players in the game to a complete standstill.

Beverley is right, George isn’t quite what he used to be…he’s better.

Next. Players who could go undrafted that LA should keep an eye on. dark