Paul George - Future Hall of Famer
During his postgame interview with the TNT broadcast crew, Paul George revealed that he spoke with future Hall-of-Famer Dwyane Wade in the offseason about continuing to improve as a basketball player. When asked about how he’s gotten to the level he’s at, George mentioned his commitment to studying and analyzing past performances.
“D-Wade knows,” George said after dropping 36 points on his former team, the Indiana Pacers. ”We chopped it up earlier before the season started about watching film, watching edits. I've been doing a ton of that. It's crazy, in year 11, I can still be a student of the game.”
Wade was part of the TNT panel of analysts, and referred to George as his brother. The two squared off multiple times in the postseason back when George was with the Pacers and Wade was with Heat.
"We've had a lot of conversations, especially over the summer," Wade said to George during the interview. "There's been a lot of noise about Playoff P and this and that. I've played against you in the playoffs...I know what you're built of and I know what you're about."
While it's unclear exactly what Wade told George over the summer, George has clearly taken his advice to heart, and it’s been paying off exponentially over his most recent stretch of games. George has now scored 30 or more points in four straight games, averaging 34.3 points per game on 55% shooting, and LA has won all four of the contests.
George has been the go-to option in the Clippers’ last two games, as his fellow All-Star Kawhi Leonard has sat with right foot soreness. He’s been extremely aggressive, forcing his way to the basket and drawing contact. Once he gets to the free throw line, he’s literally automatic, as he hasn’t missed a free throw in 23 attempts over this four-game stretch.
George is peaking at exactly the right time. The Clippers are now 38-18 (no.3 in the Western Conference) and have only 16 games to go before the postseason begins. It might be unreasonable to expect him to continue to put up 30+ every night, particularly once Leonard returns, but if his shooting can resemble something even close to this current level of efficiency (he’s hitting 60% of his threes on 7.5 attempts per game), the Clippers are going to be a tough out for any team in the postseason.