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Paul George Has The Opportunity To Surpass Kevin Durant This Season

Paul George, Durant       The Indiana Pacers are currently the best team in the NBA. With a record of 17-2(undefeated at home), a great coach and a solid core group of players along with depth to match they are looking like a team that can have success in the Playoffs for years to come, the Pacers are the only viable pick to beat the Miami Heat in the eastern conference playoffs. The Pacers are lead by Paul George who is having a career season averaging 24.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 3.4 APG, George is also shooting a career high 47% from the field. George took his game to another level a season after leading the Pacers all the way to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Due to his great Playoff run last season and the early season success of the Pacers in 2013-14, Paul George has solidified himself as a superstar in the NBA. Many fans and experts even have George as the early season MVP, and with Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks struggling, Derrick Rose out for the season, Kobe Bryant still having to play a game this season, many believe that Paul George is a top three player in the NBA right now. That list of top three players usually goes: 1. LeBron James, 2. Kevin Durant and 3. Paul George. However, there is a good chance that we could be changing the order in that list in about six months.

Believe it or not, this season, Paul George has the opportunity to surpass Kevin Durant as the number two guy in the NBA.

George is just 23 years old and in his third year in the NBA, in just his second season he reached game 7 of the East Finals. The Pacers drafted George with the 10th pick in the 2010 Draft, George was not expected to be this great, at least not this fast. Kevin Durant is at the top of his game, at the age of 25 and his sixth season in the L, Durant is the best scorer in the game, he is leading the league with an average of 28.5 ppg, he is averaging career highs in assists per game(5.1) and rebounds per game (8.2).

Durant is on pace to bring home his fourth scoring title, however that is not how his legacy will be measured. Durant is going to have to win the “big one”. Gone is the era of superstars losing, it is not acceptable in today’s NBA, there is immense pressure on these superstar players to deliver BIG and “BIG” means winning an NBA Championship for your city, for your fans, for your teammates and for your brand. If these superstars continue to come up short and it won’t matter against who either(King James), they will be criticized heavily, they will be the butt of all jokes on social media….insane hashtags, memes, tweets, fan made videos…you name it, these guys will be torched. Next thing you know they’re in trade rumors and the entire world is counting down the days to their free agency. As unfair as it is, Kevin Durant could find himself in this position very soon and he could even find himself being ranked behind Paul George by the time the season is over.

Players don’t win championships, teams do. But, the ignorance of some fans, reporters and “journalists” have turned this into an individuals sport, they contradict themselves far too often…for example if Russell Westbrook is scoring too much and his team is looking than the talk is about how “team basketball” needs to be played, if Russell Westbrook is averaging career lows and his team is losing than they will still rip Russell Westbrook, all of a sudden it becomes an individual sport.

Unfortunately, that is just the way it is now.

Kevin Durant’s legacy will be measured by how many NBA Championships he won, as of now he has 0. Durant reached the NBA Finals in 2012 and was defeated by LeBron James and the Heat in five games. Paul George’s legacy will also be measured on NBA Championships, he hasn’t reached the NBA Finals but he did reach the Eastern Finals and even though it was on a smaller stage, Paul George got further against LeBron (game 7) than Kevin Durant did.

This season Paul George is the best player on the best team in the NBA. If George continues to play the way he has been this season and the Pacers continue to dominate the NBA and remain at the top of the East, than, there is a good chance that Paul George could be the 2013-2014 NBA MVP. This would be a HUGE achievement in George’s career, the honor of league MVP, is second to an NBA Championship/Finals MVP these days.

In the past five seasons there has only been one MVP other than LeBron James and that was Derrick Rose in 2011. The MVP award is LeBron’s to lose, if George were the one to steal that award from James his status in the NBA in fans, players and coaches eyes would elevate to another level. George would be considered the top man in the NBA and at worst number two, it would than be a question of could George do what Rose couldn’t as an MVP and that is beat LeBron James in the East? Kevin Durant would have to lead the Thunder to the Finals and defeat either Paul George’s Pacers or LeBron’s Heat to be able to keep himself in the discussion for number 1/2 in the NBA.

Durant has vented his frustrations about always being number two his entire career, he feels that he has been number two behind LeBron James for the past few years and he has to break out of that spot. Durant wants the number one spot, LeBron is determined not to lose it and Paul George is eyeing it. If Durant’s OKC Thunder come up short in the Playoffs(don’t reach the Finals) and he doesn’t win his first MVP award this season, than he may be considered the third best player in the NBA. The type of competitor Durant is, being third would burn him.

But it’s not that Durant isn’t good enough, its that Paul George is and he has a better situation in Indiana to be able to defeat the Heat and go onto win an NBA Championship. One of the main ingredients to beat the Heat is a dominant front court, The Pacers have the strongest front court in the NBA in Roy Hibbert and David West who are going to be a problem for the Heat offensively and defensively. If the Thunder did come out of the powerhouse West, they wouldn’t have the dominant front court to be able to beat the Heat.

The Indiana Pacers are the best defensive team in the NBA, they have the best big man in the East in Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson is having a career year and is ready to break out. The Pacers have the recipe to defeat the Heat and Paul George is clearly the second best player in the East behind LeBron James. If the Pacers stay healthy there is nobody that can beat them in the East and we will probably get another Pacers-Heat showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently third in the West with a record of 14-4, like the Pacers they are undefeated at home(9-0). But can this team win in the Playoffs? The Thunder are in a lost situation, they have arguably the best 1-2 punch in the game in Durant and Westbrook but both are scorers. Westbrook is shooting just as many shots per game as Durant(18 per game), he is shooting 40% from the field, Durant and Westbrook’s raw talent is leading this OKC team to wins but in a 7 game series if you stop one of them, it will be a 1 on 5 game. The Pacers don’t have a big three but they have a SOLID five, all five starters are averaging over 12 ppg and they are playing great team basketball.

As for the Thunder, Durant and Westbrook are averaging a combined 48 PPG, and though Serge Ibaka is averaging career highs in points(14.8) and rebounds (10.3), can he really be a third option in the Playoffs? Can you give Serge Ibaka the ball and expect him to make big plays? We are yet to see that from him. The Thunder do not have a big three, this is where they miss James Harden. The Thunder also play in the tough western conference, they could have to go through teams like the Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, Blazers, Warriors, Mavericks and even the Lakers just to get to the Finals. All those teams the Thunder would play would have more than just two players running the show.

The Pacers would have a much easier route to the Finals, but just because it was easier for them to get there nobody is going to sit back and dismiss Paul George’s status in the league and give Durant the nod over him just because he played in a weaker conference! Besides, he would have to go through the defending champions and the best in the world, LeBron James to even get to the Finals.

Kevin Durant may find it disrespectful that Paul George is even being mentioned in the same sentence as him. Durant is a 3 x NBA Scoring champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, 4 x All-Star(game MVP in 2012), Rookie of the year, 4 x All-NBA First Team and he even averaged 31 PPG in the Finals against LeBron James. Durant’s supporters would ask, what has Paul George done?

But this season George has the opportunity to do something special, a league MVP award for Paul George would out weigh a lot that Durant has accomplished, a league MVP is something every great that has ever played the game of basketball has accomplished. There is not a single NBA MVP aside from Derrick Rose who isn’t a First Ballot Hall Of Famer, George would be in that legendary class. Duran’t wouldn’t, atleast not this season.  If George were to continue playing at the  level he is playing right now and his team remained the best in the NBA than George would and should be league MVP.

What if George won the league MVP and the Pacers went onto defeat the Heat in the ECF? What if George at the age of 24 triumphs LeBron James and leads his Pacers to the Finals? Now were talking serious stuff, George has the chance to win the league MVP, an NBA Championship and the Finals MVP all in one season! Forget Durant, the question now would be if George is be the best player in the league, ahead of LeBron!

That’s the beauty of all this, a kid who was never expected to be this great and has just an All-Star appearance on his resume, could very well finish the season as the best player in the NBA and could establish himself as an all-time great.

Again, this is all very premature talk, were not even a quarter through the NBA season! the Pacers are yet to player their 20th game. Kobe Bryant is ready to return and show us his greatness, Melo and the Knicks still have time to turn it around and don’t forget about Chris Paul either, James Harden and Dwight Howard are still figuring things out in Houston. LaMarcus ALdridge is doing something special in Portland right now.

Hell, Kevin Durant is having a career year! If he continues to play at the level he is playing and the Thunder end up on top of the West than he could be the league MVP. That is the importance of this season for both Durant and George, as great of an opportunity George has to be the top 1/2 player in the NBA, Kevin Durant has the same opportunity to take his career to another level, he can solidify himself as an all-time great by capturing his first league MVP and perhaps even an NBA championship this season.

Most importantly, this is still LeBron James league. He is without a shadow of a doubt the top dog in the NBA, the MVP award is LeBron’s to lose and so is the NBA Championship. There is a very good chance that James three-peats as the league MVP and three-peats as NBA Champion/Finals MVP, everyone else is still second place. He is chasing Jordan.

But, at this point, by the way things look are looking, if there is anyone that can dethrone LeBron James, it is Paul George. By dethroning James Paul George wouldn’t just change his own legacy, he would change Kevin Durant’s as well.

By: Ekam Nagra

1 Comment

  1. hey

    February 24, 2016 at 3:52 pm

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