The Los Angeles Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard for the first half of the season, so responsibility falls on the mighty shoulders of Paul George until Leonard returns. George will have the ball in his hands, and opportunities to score will be common during the game. He will be free to roam, yet will also have more defense focused on him because of the absence of Kawhi Leonard. Is Paul George up to the task?
Los Angeles Clippers time to shine
I've said it before that there is nothing prettier than Paul George pulling up from deep on a secondary break and splashing a jumper touching nothing of the net. With Kawhi out until the NBA All-Star break, will Paul George keep the Los Angeles Clippers in the title hunt or otherwise? Will he have enough gas in the tank to sustain a Los Angeles Clippers deep run?
The eyes of the NBA will be on George, and in dispelling any notion of not coming up in the clutch in the playoffs last season, fans sought confirmation of a reprise. Will Paul George be the Steph Curry of 2021-22? Like what Curry almost accomplished with Golden State, or will the Los Angeles Clippers be decidedly better off as we all wonder what their rivals the Lakers identity will resemble?
The 31 year old George was drafted 10th overall in the 2010 NBA draft out of Fresno State by the Indiana Pacers. He reminded many of Scottie Pippen early on, yet really worked on his game to become one of the most reliable wing shooters and on-ball defenders in the NBA.
Paul George as the lone scoring option
George averaged 27 points,10 rebounds and five assists in the playoffs last season without having Kawhi Leonard on the floor to support his efforts. His usage rate of 29.9 in the playoffs gives an indication of how much of the ball will be in his hands this season. Averages of 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists might look pedestrian in the scoring column, so don't be surprised when Paul George puts up north of 30 nightly.
Without Kawhi, who on the Los Angeles Clippers will step up and help spell Paul George at times on the floor? Between Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann, Luke Kennard and Eric Bledsoe? It looks like a tough task, yet as good as Ty Lue is at making adjustments, we will see his imprint on the regular season as the Los Angeles Clippers look to prove to the NBA where it belongs.
If Paul George averaged his playoff numbers of a year ago and the Los Angeles Clippers are near the top of the Western Conference? Paul George will be a MVP candidate. I don't think he'll have an issue putting up that type of production, and if his Los Angeles Clippers teammates step up, Paul George's 2021 will be highlighted in the best way for PG13 to be considered for the MVP trophy. With an assist/turnover ratio of 1.52, how will Paul George respond in a NBA where everyone knows he'll be the offensive focus? Will turnovers happen given he'll be such a high volume shooter? Will his ambition of team success spur him to takeover games and have games of 40 and 50 points with high field goal percentages when the Los Angeles Clippers need wins?
I would say Paul George will have a career year the likes of his days in Indiana and OKC. NBA fans will be privy to outstanding performances as Paul George finds his way back to being the main option. The debate will have to wait of who is Batman and who is Superman in Los Angeles while Kawhi Leonard rehabs, and as the Los Angeles Clippers break away from the Staples Center and open the Intuit Dome in 2024, will 2021-22 be the year that Paul George built?