Paul George has always had the tools. He was the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft for a reason. This year he has put it all together. His immense potential has turned into production (17.4 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 4.1 assists). It took a lot of hard work given where he was last season (12.1 points per game). But George has become the Pacers go-to option. He was named an All-Star for the first time. He was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. And he is coming off a triple-double in the Pacers’ playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks. When talking about the best young players in the NBA, it’s time to start including this 22 year-old that is just now starting to understand how good he can be.
Paul George joined 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis with Grady and Big Joe to talk about the feeling of being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player, the guys he looked up to growing up, what keeps him motivated and what he expects in game two of the playoffs.
On the feeling of being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player:
“It was surreal. Almost like being drafted again. The same feeling. Just the hard work I put into it, to get the pay off and get the award that back here in Indiana, it was amazing.”
On the guys he looked up to growing up:
“I grew up watching guys like Kobe (Bryant), T-Mac (Tracy McGrady) and Penny Hardaway. Those were my three favorites growing up. That’s what inspired me to be a guard and a big guard that I am. Being able to handle the ball and create at this size. Those were the ones that I looked up to. And honestly in my family was where a lot of my motivation came from. My big sister who played basketball professionally and went to college and that whole route. That was someone I saw hands on. Everything she went through I wanted for myself.”
On what keeps him motivated:
“I mean I love the game. I love to play basketball. This is a dream. This is what I love to do so I come in every day like this is not work, I’m in my comfort zone. I definitely don’t want to stop here. When I came into this league I was happy but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to be an All-Star. I wanted to a perennial All-Star. I wanted to be a champion. An MVP. I had all kinds of goals for myself. Those our goals that I’m still trying to seek out.”
If he felt like he had an advantage in the playoff game being guarded by Kyle Korver:
“I just feel like I have those tools to where I can get where I want to get to no matter who is guarding me. Now it’s learning defenders. And just learning personnel. I feel comfortable just going against anybody and with that, I just have to learn guys. Learn how they’re going to guard me and play off them without forcing things. That’s where I’m trying to grow. Learning defenders and learning how to take games over.”
What he expects in game two of the playoffs:
“I know the intensity is going to be up. They understand how game one went. I expect them to really try to pressure us, take us out of things, get to the free throw line and be big on the boards. What he have to do is throw game one out and start fresh again. We have to come out with that same intensity, if not more because they are going to ramp it up some more. We have to be ready to defend our homecourt.”
Listen to Paul George on 1070 the Fan in Indy here (Audio begins about 5 minutes into the podcast)