Cue the Luke Skywalker and Yoda Star Wars analogies. Indiana Pacers forward Paul George represents the youngest class of primetime NBA athletes. The 23-year-old George asked a matured LeBron James to mentor him during the summer offseason. The Miami Heat forward answered with a resounding “absolutely.” James is a superstar and George wants his mentoring.
“It would be great to be able to pick his brain, pick his mind and just talk about the game because I think he’s a player that can help me get tot the next level and continue to keep going to the next level,” said George.
Instant reaction to this is that George should refrain from inquiring about mentoring sessions with the playoffs approaching. The Pacers and Heat are expected to compete in the eastern conference finals with an “anything you can do, I can do better” attitude between James and George. Wait until the offseason when the stakes are not as high.
Regardless, the George comment occurred and James said yes. James is sitting on his iron throne and deservedly so for his performance over the past two-plus years. George heard the mentoring that superstar James provided Durant and now he wants a mentoring opportunity of his own. Durant and James have worked together in the past.
Paul George is having himself a career year, averaging 22.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, with a player efficiency rating of 20.82. The 20.82 PER ranks him at twenty-fifth behind New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and, no surprise, James at 30.25. Durant and James are the only two players sharing the 30+ classification, and George has not reached that plateau yet.
George’s prevalent success has caught recognition as possibly becoming the next NBA superstar, but he has work to do and a resume to build. James has beaten the hardwood path to achieve his status in the NBA.
A 23-year-old James averaged 30 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Arguably, George does not have as much room for inflated stats because of the Pacers higher team quality compared to the ’07-’08 Cavs team, but he might next year with the Pacers. Rumors have circulated of Lance Stephenson walking, which opens the door for George to increase his field goal attempts above the current 17.4 per game.
The immediate difference between George and James or even Durant is the occasional lack of consistency. Durant and James have not recorded a single digit scoring effort this year and George has done it twice. George’s most recent lackluster performance occurred Wednesday against the Charlotte Bobcats when he dropped a donut in the field goals made category. He was 0-9 on field goals attempts and finished with two points.
George certainly has the athletic ability to become a next level player. Check his highlight tape if looking for new dunks to perform on your little brother’s fisher price hoop.
When ranking point-forwards, James and Durant are the clear-cut top picks. George needs to expand his offensive game past 3.5 assists per game. He has the clutch factor, his game-tying three pointer in game one of the 2013 eastern conference finals, and the size to defend at 6’9″. Superstar James is the best player in the NBA and George wants mentoring to reach the next level.
Commentary by Niles Olson