Illustration by Howard Shum. Go check it out.
Paul George is good at professional basketball. Really good.
We’ve raved before about George’s underrated defensive prowess, but it’s worth reiterating: George can defend the hell out of the ball. George has those extremely long arms, that effortless footwork, and excellent positioning that, on a good day, might remind you of Scottie Pippen.
The Wolves will have to contend with George tonight, when the Wolves take on the Pacers at Target Center at 7 PM. But they won’t just have to plan for George’s disruptive defense…
So far this season, Paul has looked like the total package – through the Pacers’ first 5 games, he’s averaging 13.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. He’ll likely be locked up with Andrei Kirilenko – a matchup of excellent defenders.
As a Wolves fan, part of my
mild obsession interest in George lies in what could have been: Indy selected George 10th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft – the same draft in which the Wolves picked Wes Johnson at #4.
At the time, I wanted the Wolves to stand pat and pick Demarcus Cousins, or trade down a few spots to grab Greg Monroe, who I thought was criminally underrated coming out of Georgetown and would be a great high-post passer and complement to Kevin Love. But since David Kahn seemed intent on getting a wing, my third-ranked alternative was a trade-down to draft George and get a sweetener as well.
Admittedly, I didn’t realize how good George would become (or how bad Wes would turn out to be), but I did know I wasn’t impressed with Johnson and thought George’s upside looked at least as high. Given those priors, why wouldn’t you diversify your risk?
Needless to say, David Kahn didn’t see things the same way, and the rest is history. But I still seethe a bit at what could’ve been when I see Paul George ascending to stardom in Indiana and Wes Johnson having already fizzled out in Minnesota.
I’m sure I’ll feel it all over again tonight.