What’s the easiest way to build a championship contending team? A strong foundation that includes an elite NBA player. That’s what the Indiana Pacers have right now, an elite star player, yet their pages are numbered.
Pacers recently received news that Paul George will not resign with them after this season .What’s worse than electing to become a free agent is that he informed the organization that he prefers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet it wasn’t that long ago, about four years, that Indiana was a title contending team. Remember when they pushed Miami’s Big-3, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, to seven games in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals? That was the same series PG-13 had that monster dunk over Birdman, Chris Anderson, when he blew by LeBron James. Yeah, we all thought the Pacers were about to be the new team to beat.
But then center Roy Hibbert became a mystery. After earning his first All-Star selection, and averaging 12.8 points per game, 2 blocks, and 8.8 total rebounds per game, the anchor underneath the basket, protecting the rim like a dragon guarding the princess locked away in the tallest tower, was suddenly nowhere to be found.
He was physically on the court, but at the same time, was he really? He sucked. Then, Paul George broke his league during the summer of 2014 playing for Team USA. And like that, the Pacers attack was over.
What was seemingly a franchise on the cusp of winning their first ever title, has now reverted back to the middle of the pack. George has stated he wants to play for a championship team, and although the Lakers are further away from where Indiana is at this current time, they are trending upwards whereas the Pacers are quickly losing ground.
The question remains: Is Paul George a player who could lead a team to the promised land? Absolutely! He is one of the five best two-way players in the game and is the closet thing to a “LeBron James stopper” that this game has. This doesn’t by any means mean he can stop James, but he is a player who could hold him in check and match his point total.
Yes, his biggest weakness is the last second shot. He has yet to make a buzzer beater other than when he called “Game,” in his Gatorade commercial, but LeBron wasn’t good at buzzer beaters either early in his career. So you choose someone else to take the final shot. No big deal. George is still the guy who is going to get you a bucket in crunch time, he is the guy who will defend the other team’s best player, and he is the guy who is going to excite the crowd with an posterizing dunk.
Any team would be thrilled to have him.