Paul George seems to be everyone’s target right now. From the Boston Celtics to the Cleveland Cavaliers to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, everyone wants a piece of the Indiana Pacers All-Star. With Jimmy Butler off the trade market, George is the biggest name out there, and several contenders want to add him. But given his actual numbers, is George worth the hubbub surrounding him? Unfortunately, a deep dive into the statistics shows George is incredibly overrated.
During the 2016-17 season, George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals in 35.9 minutes per game. He shot 46.1 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers aren’t terrible, but a dip into his advanced stats is where things get dicey for the four-time All-Star.
George ranked 70th in true shooting percentage (58.7), 218th in turnover percentage (11.1), 23rd in usage rate (27.2) and 27th in value added (393.4). He also finished 43rd in PER (20.23), 41st in offensive win shares (4.0), 27th in defensive win shares, 39th in total win shares (7.1) and 100th in win shares per 48 minutes (.127). He also ranked 42nd in box plus/minus and finally, he was 27th in value over replacement player at 3.2.
If you don’t understand what any of those numbers mean, just trust me when I say they show George isn’t one of the NBA’s best players. Whereas Jimmy Butler was clearly a top 15 guy, George looks more like he’s in the 25-40 range.
On top of all that, it’s important to remember that George is 27, has played 17,204 career minutes (regular and postseason combined), had a major leg injury in 2014 and isn’t likely to get any better. He’s a wildly inefficient player based on the advanced numbers. And this wasn’t a one-year phenomenon. During the 2015-16 season George ranked 33rd in PER (20.98), 114th in true shooting percentage (.557) and 56th in win shares per 48 (.157). His overall numbers were better in 2015-16, but he was still declining and that continued this season.
People are focusing far too much on George’s fantastic performance against the Cavs in the first round of this year’s postseason. In four games he averaged 28.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.8 steals in 43.0 minutes per game. But he also shot just 38.6 percent from the field, averaged 3.3 turnovers per contest and, oh yeah, his team got swept.
Still, George did do pretty much everything he could against Cleveland and LeBron James, but it wasn’t close to enough.
The overall picture here is that Paul George is a very good basketball player. He’s a two-way guy who can provide value on both ends of the floor. But he’s certainly not a true superstar who can completely change a franchise. On a top-level team he’s a complementary piece and no more.