The Indiana Pacers took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference this past season. Paul George was one of the major reasons for their success, and he was rewarded for it on Wednesday with a five-year contract extension. The deal is for the maximum amount of money, which should be around $80-90 million.
George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game last season, and showed during the NBA Playoffs his future as a potential superstar in the league. Many analysts view him as a Tracy McGrady type of player, and scouts have been calling him a likely top-5 player in the NBA within the next 2-3 seasons. His offensive game has continued to evolve since coming into the league. He has developed a consistent three-point shot, and can get to the rim with ease as well.
There are some improvements that need to be made in his game, especially with his ball-handling. If Paul George wants to be an NBA superstar, he needs to be able to handle the basketball and create plays for both himself and his teammates. He showed great improvement in that area of his game last season, and according to multiple reports he’s improved yet again this off-season. If he’s able to shore up his ball-handling skills, it will make him a much more dangerous player.
Another area of his game that needs improvement is the ability to score the basketball from the post. George is an incredibly lanky player, and he often gets mismatches in the post against smaller defenders. He needs to work on his aggressiveness from the post, and not relying on the fadeaway jump shot from the post. With his ability to get to the rim and finish, and also being a very good free-throw shooter, he needs to work on forcing the defense into a position where he can draw fouls or finish at the rim.
Defensively he’s become one of the best players in the league. He’s the true definition of a two-way star. Last season during the Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, he went toe to toe against LeBron James, and did a very good job making James earn his points. No player is going to be able to stop LeBron, but being able to slow him down and take difficult shots is exactly what George was able to do. He has long arms and a great nose for the basketball, which will make him one of the most dangerous defensive players in the league for years to come.
While this maximum contract is binding for the next five years, there’s no real reason to question whether or not he’ll be able to live up to the expectations. Barring an injury, he’s got the work ethic, attitude, and skill to continue developing his game at a very high rate. This season will prove that the Pacers did the right thing by inking George to this max contract. The deal also makes sense, because if the Pacers hadn’t given George a max contract, then another team would have once he hit restricted free agency next off-season.
Paul George Extension Grade: A