Since coming out of Fresno State, Paul George from the Indiana Pacers has evolved into one of the NBA’s most versatile wing players. There isn’t anything he can’t–and won’t–do for Indiana, and that attitude has turned him into an All-Star and MVP candidate.
Last year was a promising one for George. He played in his first full season since his gruesome leg injury that he suffered during the summer of 2014, and it was his best year as a pro. He returned to the All-Star game and played in 81 games for the Pacers while setting a career-high in scoring (23.1), and matching in assists (4.1) and steals per game (1.9). His improved offense is credited to a less-reluctant three-point stroke, and he nailed 210 out of his 566 attempts from long-range.
Building on that year, George said during an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio that he wants to be MVP this year (h/t Hoopshype):
I want to be MVP. I definitely want to be MVP this year. It’s tough as always. It will be a challenge, but with coach Nate (McMillan) and the guys that I got here I’m a position to move into that spot as long as I remain being me, being a leader, being aggressive and wanting that. It’s not mine for the taking, I gotta go get it and this is my year to go get it.
George winning the MVP is nothing short of daunting, especially since he’s not even the best player at his position. He has LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant ahead of him who will get consideration this year. And then there are other guys at different positions who will get votes as well.
Russell Westbrook is my favorite to take home the MVP this year because of the explosive season he’s going to have. If he puts up gaudy numbers while sneaking the Thunder into the playoffs after Durant left, he’d deserve MVP over everyone else.
There’s also James Harden, who’s going to run wild in Mike D’Antoni’s system, and Chris Paul, who’s been top-seven in votes every year for the last five. Anthony Davis will also be in the conversation if he stays healthy.
If PG were to get votes for this upcoming award, which he will if his numbers are strong enough, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s received votes. Back in 2013-14, George got 33 points on the MVP ballot after averaging 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.9 steals for the Pacers. Whether he wins MVP or not, Indiana needs him to play at a high level for their success.
Data courtesy of Basketball-Reference