Everyone even tangentially associated with the NBA loves Paul George. He has been a defensive stalwart since he stepped into Indiana’s rotation. He has become a scoring beast. He’s the best challenger the association has to prevent LeBron James from winning another MVP award. And last night against the Portland Trail Blazers he did some incredible things — in the “nearly impossible to believe” definition of the word.
But George isn’t content. He still thinks he needs to improve, reports Chris Haynes, writing for Comcast Sportsnet.
“Even in this [43-point] game, it was a learning process for me,” he said. “There are still some things that I can take from it and could have done better and probably could have won this game for us. I’m not even close to reaching my peak yet.”
Well, he is just 23 years old. So it makes sense that he still expects to improve.
But how much better does he think he will get?
“I feel like I’m competing with Carmelo, K.D and LeBron,” George told CSNNW.com. “I’m not taking nothing away from [Nicolas] Batum or other small forwards in this league, but I feel like those guys are my competition and they’re who I’m going for.
“To get where I want to get to, nights like these and matchups like these [against Batum] are where I have to separate myself and I think I did that. Would have just liked to get a win out of it.”
So Batum — an acclaimed wing who will make $11 million this year and was considered a near-equal to George less than a year ago — isn’t even on his radar? Dropping 43 on him is another sticker for the helmet?
Well, if you listen to Nic tell it, there really isn’t much debate.
Batum finished with eight points on two-of-five shooting as he focused more of his attention on the defensive end. However, George had a lot to do with that as he hounded Batum all night long. Batum did everything he could. And at the end of the game, he said George’s performance against him was reminiscent of a former NBA superstar.
“I remember one guy I tried to guard so much, make him work and he had 30 on me and that was T-Mac. I felt like I did everything I wanted to do on defense and T-Mac scored anyway. Paul George did that tonight. He did a great job. I tried to be all over him, tried to stop him and make him work. He made some tough shots. You have to give him credit. He’s an MVP player.”
As Batum says, you have to give George credit.
But until everybody — including George himself — starts to see him on the LeBron/Durant level, it doesn’t sound like #24 is going to waste much time patting himself on the back. At this point, it’s all about rings and status — the two things that the truly elite have always coveted the most.