Around these parts, it’s no secret that Paul George is a one of the illest things since Sriracha sauce. But there hasn’t been much national talk of the rookie’s emergence despite the fact that he dropped double-digit points in 11 of 16 games between January 23 and February 23.
But resident ESPN stat guru John Hollinger has put George on his “2012 Team” that recognizes under-the-radar performers who he expects to be even more productive next year. John even highlights one stat that I didn’t even realize was so great: the kid is shooting 56.7% on two-point shots so far this year. That’s pretty swell.
If there is one reason to watch the Pacers this year, it’s this guy. While the Griffin-Wall-Cousins rookie trio still hogs all the attention, it’s become increasingly clear that George was flat-out stolen at No. 10 by Indiana. A long, silky finisher who looks as if he could easily ramp up to the go-to scorer role, George is shooting 56.7 percent on 2-pointers.
His main shortcoming has been that he has taken a ton of 3-pointers and struggles to make them. That talent should develop in time, as his shooting stroke looks solid, and if it does the 20-year-old will be nigh unguardable.
But that’s not all.
Hollinger also has liked what he has seen from ostensible-rookie Tyler Hansbrough.
Hansbrough did virtually nothing the first two months and briefly fell out of the Pacers’ rotation entirely, but lately his play has been more encouraging.
One thing new Indiana coach Frank Vogel did was give Hansbrough a consistent role, playing him about half the game off the bench at power forward. That strategy has allowed Hansbrough to play more freely on offense, and he’s averaging nearly a point every two minutes on the season and proving adept at drawing fouls. But to be a long-term starter, he needs to raise his shooting percentage from 43.0 percent.
Nice little feathers for these guys’ caps.