Today we’ll take a look into a player who recently decided to take his talents to LA, but to the “other” team in LA, the Clippers. He is an LA native, but spent the majority of his career with the Pacers, then moved on to OKC and now the Clippers. He’s a 6’8 shooting guard/small forward who’s a six-time All-Star, and a two-time NBA All-Defensive team member. Today’s topic is “The Rise of Paul George” and we’ll also take a look into the Clippers team and see if PG has the potential to help bring a championship to the Clippers.
PG was born in Palmdale, CA, and attended Knight High School. He started playing on JV, but soon the coach realized his skills and moved him up to varsity in the middle of his sophomore season. Other than high school, PG played AAU basketball and started to get attention from recruiters. But, he wasn’t a major recruit coming out of high school like other guys in his class like Jrue Holiday and DeMar Derozen. At first he verbally committed to Santa Clara, then de-committed, and chose to attend Pepperdine University. Coach Vance Walberg, the head coach at Pepperdine, decided to resign from the program, which led Paul to de-commit and take another path. He finally made up his mind and chose to attend Fresno State.
In 2008, he made his debut as a Bulldog. He helped them qualify for the 2009 NCAA Tournament. He led the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) in 3-point shooting with 44.7%, and it was the third best field goal shooting percentage in the Bulldogs men’s basketball program. At the end of his freshman year he averaged 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. In his sophomore season, he started to turn heads and was named the most entertaining player in the West region and eighth most entertaining in college basketball by Sports Illustrated. He helped the Bulldogs go to the WAC tournament, but they lost in the quarterfinals. He was named to the WAC Second-Team, and after only two seasons in Fresno, decided to declare for the NBA draft.
George entered the 2010 NBA Draft and was selected 10th overall by the Indiana Pacers.He signed his rookie contract, 2 years worth a guaranteed $3.9 million on July 1st, 2010. He averaged 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists and started in 19 games. The Pacers earned a playoff spot, but lost in five games to Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Headed into his sophomore season, he was chosen to compete in the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest and the Rising Stars Challenge. The 2011-2012 season was shortened due to a lockout, but he finished the season averaging 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. This year the Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinials, but took a loss to the Miami Heat who went on to win the 2012 NBA title.
So in the 2012-2013 season, the Pacers made some adjustments. He mainly played in the shooting guard position, but with Danny Granger being injured, PG started to play as a small forward. He became the go-to player for the Pacer’s offense, which was a smart decision by the coaching staff. Be broke the franchise record for making nine 3-pointers in a single game, surpassing Reggie Miller. He finally recorded his first triple-double on February 13th, 2013. He was finally receiving his rise to stardom and made his first All-Star appearance this season. At the end of the season he earned the Most Improved Player award. The Pacers earned a playoff seed once again, and took it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals for a re-match against the Miami Heat. The series was super close, but Lebron James put the Pacers to bed with some clutch performances.
In the 2013-2014 season, PG extended his contract with the Pacers for five more years. But in order for him to have the best benefits, he had to be elected to another All.NBA team or be the MVP for the 2013-2014 season. If he met one of these requirements he would earn the 30% extension, and if he didn’t 25% would be contracted from the salary cap. Paul started off the season strong and the Pacers went 9-0 for the first time in franchise history. They finished the season going 56 and 26. But for a third straight year, the Pacers were eliminated again by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Coming so close to a NBA Finals appearance, but no one could ever get past Lebron James when he was in the East Coast.
In the 2014-2015 season, George was named to the roster for the US national team, who would play in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Unfortunately, things took a turn for Paul George fast, and in a scrimmage for the USA team, he landed wrong on his foot and suffered from a compound fracture in both bones of his lower leg. This was an injury that would go down as one of the worst freak accidents in NBA history. You could literally see the bones in his lower leg sticking out. It was so traumatizing that they stopped the scrimmage out of respect for PG. He was expected to miss the entire season, but made a quick return. This accident happened in August and by the end of February 2015, he participated in his first practice. He played in the final six games of the season for the Pacers.
So PG made his comeback, and in the 2015-2016 season he was back ready for action. He led the Eastern Conference in scoring 27.2 points per game. He scored a career-high 48 points and earned a starting spot in the 2016 All-Star game. He scored 41 points in the All-Star game coming close to surpassing Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 42 points in 1962. PG helped the Pacers advance to the playoffs, and he played in his first playoff game since 2014. But they didn’t make it far and were eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in seven games.
The 2016-2017 season was PG’s last season with the Pacers. He had another spectacular season, and helped the Pacers clinch a playoff spot for the sixth time in seven seasons. They faced off Lebron again, now playing for the Cavs, and took a L in the first round.
By the 2017-2018 season, the Pacers decided to break ties with PG and he was traded to the OKC Thunder. He helped the Thunder earn a playoff spot and was named as a replacement for DeMarcus Cousins on Team Lebron in the 2018 All-Star game. In the playoffs, PG set a franchise playoff record for making eight 3-pointers. Despite his clutch performance in the series, OKC lost in six games to the Jazz.
Going into the 2018-2019 season, PG was torn between staying in a good situation in OKC and wanting to return to his home southern California. He decided to stay in OKC for one last season and re-signed with the Thunder for four-years worth $137 million. He continued to play to his potential and even recorded his third career triple-double. He was in the MVP race, but finished third in voting. OKC was eliminated early from the playoffs in the first round despite PG scoring a high 36 points in Game 5.
In the 2019-2020 season, PG decided to follow his heart and return back home. He was traded to the Clippers, along with Kwahi Leonard. Fans were excited to see PG and Kwahi both in a Clippers jersey, and this was the beginning of another super team in LA. PG and Kawhi became the first duo in Clippers history to each score 40 points in a single game. They had high expectations, but couldn’t live up to the hype. He was blamed for the Clippers’ losing in the second round to the Nuggets. They had the Nuggets down 3-1, but the Nuggets made a huge run and came back from the deficit to defeat the Clippers. His nickname “Playoff P” was changed to “Pandemic P” from all the slander he had to deal with on social media.
So going into the 2020-2021 season, Kawhi and PG both have their hands full trying to redeem the Clippers name. So far in this 2021 season, PG is averaging 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists. The Clippers have an outstanding record of 16-5 and stand in second place in the Western Conference. They just passed the Lakers up, who were previously in second place in the West. We all know the Clippers will make the playoffs in good standing, but the real question is can they deliver and live up to their expectations.
The Lakers have been the “team” of LA for so long. I mean look at all the titles behind the name, and the Clippers on the other hand, are still trying to get that first banner. Can PG help the Clippers accomplish the impossible? I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the season plays out. Let us know what you think in the comments below.