Two years removed from one of the worst injuries in NBA history, Paul George is starting to feeling very confident in his game.
In an excerpt from The Vertical, George explains why he thinks he can compete with LeBron James as the best player in the league:
George’s playoff duels with James established him as a star on the rise but never a rival, especially because he never won. Overcoming the adversity of the past two years, however, has given George a better sense of what he’s achieved and more belief that he belongs on a similar stage. “I’ve always matched up with him like, ‘I know he can do this, I know he can do that,’ ” George told The Vertical about James. “Not in an awe fashion, but it’s more so, ‘I’m not supposed to win these games. This is supposed to be the best dude in the NBA. I’m trying to challenge him. I know what I’m up against.’ Now it’s, ‘I’m ready. I’m ready for you. I’m a veteran. I know you, you know me. Let’s meet here, let’s get this job done.’ I’m prepared. I’ve had time to figure this out. I’ve had time to lick my wounds. I’m ready.”
Now, with what George has to say, it begs the question: can George really be neck and neck with LeBron as the best player in the NBA?
It’s going to take a big season from Paul George in order to be as good as LeBron James in the minds of fans and players of the NBA. That is nothing against George — he had his best season of his career last season — and as stated before, is coming off a very serious leg injury. He averaged 23 points as well as averaging 7 rebounds per game. Those are some very impressive numbers to say the least, but we are talking about LeBron James here.
Overall, James is a better finisher at the rim, a better defender, and is hands down a better passer than George. When it comes to shooting, it is what you prefer from your player. Paul George is definitely the better three-point shooter, but LeBron has really improved his mid range shooting. From a two point percentage perspective, LeBron is significantly better than George at 57% compared to George’s 44%. LeBron’s inside presence is something that George can’t top because LeBron’s physical athleticism is just too overpowering.
It’s tough to compare players to LeBron because he is a one of a kind athlete. Steph Curry has won two MVP titles with a completely different skill set than LeBron, but there are plenty of people out there who will say Curry is better. That argument has validation now because Curry is able to back it up with two MVP trophies.
In order for George to be in the discussion with James as best in the NBA, he is going to have to take the Pacers into some familiar territory, the playoffs. George was at his best when he was squaring off with LeBron and the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, so if he wants to be compared to LeBron, he’s going to have to show it when the games really matter.
Paul George is a great player, one of the better players in the NBA, but in order for him to be in the LeBron discussion, he has to get into the MVP race this year and bring Indiana very deep into the playoffs.