The Indiana Pacers are currently the best team in the league. Well, there is a team down in South Beach that would beg to differ, but it is an accurate statement. The Pacers are playing the best basketball in the league and have the league’s best record.
The Pacers are now 15-1 after a lopsided victory against the Washington Wizards on Friday. This is the best start in franchise history. We all knew after the impressive run by the Pacers last year that they would be a tough out in any 7 game series and a contender for the title. However, no one expected the Pacers to come out of the gates this hot.
They started this season just the way they ended it as far as their starting five goes. Danny Granger injured his calf right around the start of the season and has missed time.
I was really interested to see the revamped Paul George team up with the All-Star Granger. But again the injury bug bit him. However, I think it’s safe to say that Granger’s injury problems have created a situation on the court that is becoming a problem itself in Paul George. Last year, Granger got injured and the Pacers needed someone to step in and fill the voided space. Paul George did just that.
George showed flaws in his game but displayed flashes of greatness at times in the absence of Granger and as the leader of the Pacers. He helped guide his team to the Eastern Conference Finals to matchup with the Miami Heat. Paul George had his coming out moment to the world and league in Game 2 of the series. Remember this?
George Dunks on Birdman! (Click on the link)
This play let people know that Paul George was for real. The irony in that spectacular play is that after he dunked on Birdman, LeBron James seemed to notice and gain a high respect for a young, talented player. LeBron dapped up George after the play as if he enjoyed watching his teammate get dunked on after getting blown by at the top of the key. Just as the Pacers are inching up on the Heat to try to capture the East and eventually the Title, Paul George seems to making a great case for MVP this year over LeBron James.
There is no doubt in my mind that LeBron James is the best player on the face of this earth today. He is an unstoppable force that has worked tremendously hard to show little to no flaws in his game. He now has 4-MVP’s , 2 rings, and 2 Finals MVP’s. I might as well as that he has that Gold Medal as well. These numbers may just benefit George if he continues to win games and play at the high level he is at right now.
I think the voters will get fatigue with checking off LeBron’s name on the MVP ballot. If George can hold that number one spot in the East for the regular season and keep or increase his current numbers, he will hoist the Maurice Podoloff Trohpy. However, you need to understand this: the voters are not THAT fatigue. If LeBron deserves it, he will get it. He is head and shoulders above all.
A perfect example would be to look back at the last MVP other than LeBron James: Derrick Rose. Rose led the Bulls to the best record in the league in the 2010-2011 season by winning 62 games. He averaged 25 points and 7.7 assists per game during that season. (He played more games that year than he will play in his last two season. ) On the other hand was just as deserving. He posted 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists a game. The emergence and the fashion in which Rose led his team made all the difference. The decision to hand Rose the trophy in fact was an easy choice to make for the voters.
Back to Paul George. People forget that defense win championships. Well, it is evident that the guys suiting up in yellow, blue, and white have not. They live and die by the defense side of the ball. (Irony: Derrick Rose and Chicago Bulls put their stamp as the best defensive team in the league the year he won the MVP. Also their only loss this year is against a Rose led Bulls squad.) They are currently giving up only 85 points a game which is ranked first in the NBA. You could easily give this credit to the aggressiveness and intensity that the Pacers bring every night. You can even give the credit to Roy Hibbert who is an eraser at the rim. Their best perimeter defender would also be their best player. Yes, Mr. George. He always guards the best players and never backs down.
Critics said George needed to improve his ability to shoot. He is shooting 47% from the field (41% last year) and 40% from the arc (36%). He has posted two 30-point games already this year and scored more than 20 points in all but 3 of the games. He currently averages 23 points a game (5th in the league) to go along with 6 rebounds. His production on the road is even higher than his point production at home. He has become one of the most athletic wings in the game. Even if the MVP trophy doesn’t end up in Indiana, I’m sure the Defensive Player of the Year Award will.
It is obvious George had a bitter taste in his mouth after the Game 7 loss last year to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. He believes the Pacers are the team to dethrone the Heat. From just peeking at his transition from last year to this year, I know exactly where Paul George spent his summer: in a gym. It is evident he has worked on his game and took i t to that next level. He even should be considered for the Most Improved Player Award as well.
This is a long season ahead of us. I’m sure the Pacers will endure their downfalls but as of right now, everything is great. And as of right now, the campaign is strong: PAUL GEORGE FOR MVP.
The only question I want to ask George is: Deep down, does he really ever want Danny Granger to return to the lineup?