The first thing that pops off the page when looking at George’s numbers is his high turnover percentage. The Fresno State product coughed the ball up on some 18.8% of his total possessions. He seldom gave the ball up in spot up situations, as he often just took the first available shot, but he turned the ball over on 30% of his one-on-one opportunities and 25% of his transition touches. Obviously, his ball-handling ability will be something that he needs to refine in order to reach his potential as a player.
Much of George’s potential resides in the fact that he has excellent leaping ability and a frame that is reminiscent of a young Tracy McGrady. Last season, George used the athleticism to get up and down the floor in transition as often as almost any player in our ranks (4.2 Pos/G, 3rd). Though he didn’t score at a high rate (1.127 PPP, 18th) because of his high turnover percentage, George’s adjusted field goal percentage of 71.4% ranks his fourth in this group.
Though his athleticism would make him seem like a candidate to try and dunk the ball at all costs, George’s game is predicated on his jump shot. He shot a fantastic 44.7% from three as a freshman, but his shooting dipped to just 35.3% from beyond the arc this year. Despite that fall off, George’s 3.5 spot up field goal attempts per-game and 1.056 PPP rank slightly above average on both fronts. His 1.2 points per-shoot in unguarded catch and shoot situations are solid too, but he ranks well below average at 0.862 PPS with a hand in his face and third last at 0.433 PPS on pull up jumpers. The fact that George shot just 1.3 unguarded spot up shots per-game, as opposed to 3.9 attempts in the other two situations pose questions about his shot selection that should be alleviated by a smaller role earlier in his career on the next level.
When George isn’t tossing up shots from the perimeter, he proves to be a pretty effective finisher at 1.19 PPS at the rim. While his lack of bulk doesn’t stop him from being well above average in that regard, his 0.67 PPP in the post tells us that he isn’t physically ready to exploit his athleticism on the block just yet. In contrast, his ability to draw fouls in isolation situations (12.9% of shots), shows that his first step can be a weapon.
On the whole, George’s situational profile will be secondary to his upside, similar to Aminu. His physical profile is spectacular for a wing and at the end of the day, teams are going to do their homework on his intangibles to see if he’s capable of developing into the type of player his athleticism could permit him to be in the long-run. [Read Full Article]
Paul George: "My Ceiling is Pretty High" June 6, 2010 Paul George has an unabashed confidence in himself as a basketball player.
“I haven’t been exposed to this game as much as a lot of other players and I think I’m already a great prospect with good potential,” he says. “Once I get that chance to really get that experience and learn about the game, I think my ceiling is pretty high.”
Modest? Not exactly.
Accurate? With the way his stock is rising the past few weeks, few of the general managers in attendance would have a hard time arguing.
Having put himself on the map as a freshman a year ago with a thunderous dunk against Saint Mary’s that quickly became a YouTube sensation, George made the best of his opportunity to show pro teams the combination of athleticism and skill that made him a matchup nightmare in his days at Fresno State.
The only thing more electrifying than George’s on-court exploits has been his meteoric rise from unheralded high school recruit to potential lottery pick in less than two years.
Growing up in Palmdale, California, the future Second-Team All-WAC performer was fixated on taking his game to the asphalt, preferring to play street ball as opposed to the organized game. It wasn’t until he enrolled at Pete Knight High School that George began to truly develop as a player, suiting up for the freshman team in his first season before starting for the varsity squad in his final three years.
It wasn’t until he was discovered one day on an outdoor court by the Pump ‘N Run AAU team that his game truly began to take off.
“It was great exposure playing with Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee,” George says. “It let me learn a lot about basketball that gave me the confidence to keep going and keep going.”
Alongside the future UCLA Bruins (Holiday was a lottery pick last year), George was exposed to the elite talent on the West Coast and for the first time saw that there was more to being a great player than having off the charts athleticism.
“At that point I was just starting to learn what playing against real athletes was like,” he says. “It helped me understand how much work I needed to do. I’m just a student of the game. I love to watch it and learn about it. I think that’s really what has gotten me to where I’m at now.”
By his senior year at Pete Knight, George had started to put it all together, posting averages of 25 points and 12 rebounds, but with his late entry into the basketball pipeline, the majority of big programs around the country weren’t wise to the blossoming talent out west. Georgetown, Penn State, Pepperdine and San Diego State all actively recruited George, but after careful consideration he opted for the opportunity to be an impact player right away for the Bulldogs.
His goals quickly came to fruition as George exploded onto the scene in his first season at the college level, averaging more than 14 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game, and posting the third-best 3-point shooting percentage (44.7) in program history.
Few outside of the WAC or even Fresno State knew just how good the super freshman was, but the Bulldogs’ coaches were wise to the talent they had unearthed in the recruiting process.
“I think they kind of understood that I was a diamond in the rough,” George says. “I knew whatever team I went to I’d make the most out of it. I didn’t want to go to a bigger school just for the simple fact that I wanted to be an impact guy immediately. I wanted to learn from mistakes by playing as a freshman. That’s why I went to Fresno. I think the coaches had an idea of what they were getting.”
Now the question is: what will an NBA team be getting?
George opted for the pro game after a sophomore campaign that saw him increase his production but ended on a sour note with the Bulldogs missing the postseason after a 15-18 overall record and a fifth place finish in the WAC.
While the forward insists a better team showing would have only further augmented his decision to enter his name in this year’s draft pool, he says the choice was a difficult one either way, given the NCAA’s new early entry deadline.
“It’s definitely tough on the underclassmen because it kind of takes away from being able to test the waters out,” he says. “In order for you to really give this your all, you have to set aside school for a little bit and in order for that you have to pursue the route with an agent and fully expand on basketball with training. So I think it pressures kids a little bit more than before.”
George is one of the underclassmen who likely won’t need to sweat over his decision. In recent weeks he has seen his name climb draft boards to the point that he now finds himself in the back end of the lottery, and should stay there as long as he continues to impress in workouts.
He has been hard at work improving the finer points of his game, specifically his ball handling and shooting off the dribble. As a super-athletic small forward in college, George says a large part of his intrigue as a prospect stems from the potential for him to transition to the off-guard spot down the road. Given his 6-9 frame, there certainly is the potential for the youngster to develop into a matchup problem, even at the pro level. And of course, teams love his still relatively raw game.
“I think that’s probably the most important part of my game,” he says. “I’m only 19 and I have a lot of room to keep growing. I know with the people around me and with my work ethic I’ll get to that next level. I won’t stop until I’m one of the elite players in the NBA.”
That last part is yet to be seen, but there’s little question that George has already risen to the top when it comes to generating a buzz in this draft class. [Read Full Article] Paul George Workout and Interview June 4, 2010
Of all the players in this draft, none elicits as wide a range of responses from NBA talent evaluators as Fresno State sophomore Paul George.
An extremely late bloomer from the out of reach desert town of Palmdale, California who was completely overlooked by Pac-10 teams after being deemed a two-star high school recruit, George is fairly young for his class and appears to have a huge amount of room to grow as a prospect.
As we quickly found out while watching him work out in Southern California, George is an incredibly tantalizing prospect to watch in person due to his physical tools, versatile skills and considerable upside.
The first thing you notice is that he is much bigger than the 6-7, 190 pounds he was listed at in high school (or even the 6-8 that Fresno State pegged him as), measuring a legit 6-9 in shoes with a solid 6-11 ¼ wingspan at the NBA combine. Clearly he has grown a few inches in the past few years and, although his body could still stand to put on weight, his frame should have no problem filling out over the next few years.
The second thing that stood out about George is just how versatile and dynamic a player he is -- far more than we had given him credit for up until this point. Exceptionally smooth with terrific body control and the ability to get off the floor quickly, George is an extremely impressive athlete.
The last revelation from this workout involved George’s skill level. Despite his imposing size, he is a pure swingman -- not the SF/PF we had listed him as following his freshman season (when he played primarily at the 4 spot). His ball-handling skills are excellent for a 6-9 player. He handles the ball on a string and looks incredibly confident, almost effortless, in the way he creates shots for himself in the mid-range area.
As you can see in the video below (take note of the sequence starting 28 seconds in), George’s size, coupled with the elevation he gets on his jumper, allows him to get his shot off whenever he pleases in isolation situations. This was something of a curse for him in college, as he was allowed to take pretty much any shot he wanted in an undisciplined, disorganized offensive system. George clearly did not get the kind of direction and accountability that a late blooming player such as himself needs.
With the right coaching (and a more serious environment), George has the tools to develop into an incredible mismatch.
George scored in a variety of ways in the competitive four on four pickup games we took in: turnaround jumpers and basic post moves (video 2:07); smooth, effortless NBA 3-pointers (2:17); beautiful mid-range jumpers; off the dribble getting to the rack; and ferocious put-back dunks, which he executed with frightening ease. He’s going to be a terror in transition on the right NBA team. His length and explosiveness allow him to finish incredibly well around the basket -- check out the series of dunks we filmed in the video above, starting at the 5:10 mark, for evidence of that.
The most impressive part of George’s workout from our perspective was the potential and intensity he showed on the defensive end -- something we rarely saw at Fresno State. His outstanding size, length, lateral quickness and instincts give him the potential to develop into a Trevor Ariza-type defender. He’s capable of defending up to three positions at the NBA level, and is fully capable of impacting a game on that. George’s anticipation skills were on full display. He was able to block shots, get into passing lanes, contest jumpers and generally touch everything in his area.
George has been criticized for his laid-back demeanor dating back to his high school days. Seeing how easily the game of basketball comes for him, it’s not hard to see where this is coming from. He has gone from being an unheralded prospect to being discussed as a legitimate lottery candidate, which is a huge jump as far as expectations are concerned.
The biggest factor for George will be whether or not he lands on a team where he’ll be pushed consistently by the coaching staff and challenged to reach his full potential as a player. While his talent is impossible to ignore (and his ceiling is obviously incredibly high), George still has plenty to prove in terms of his ability to impact the game in a manner that is conducive to winning games -- his Fresno State squad underachieved badly this year. He must show that he can play with a killer instinct and display the willingness to do whatever it takes on both ends of the floor to help his team win.
To his credit, George seems to realize this and touched on that topic in the video above (1:57). Still, there’s a big difference between flashing talent in a workout setting and translating it to an actual NBA game. Much of that will come down to how hard George is willing to work (something his trainer Don McLean praised him for emphatically to us) and the situation he finds himself in.
In terms of pure upside, though, there may not be five players in this draft with more overall talent than what we saw from George in Los Angeles. The buzz around him has been gradually building over the past few weeks, to the point that it’s no longer a stretch to say he could be the first wing player taken after Wesley Johnson.
With teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers (his favorite team growing up), Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks all looking for a dynamic swingman who can create, shoot and defend, the chance of George being picked in the 8-15 range looks very good at the moment.
Note: DraftExpress was present at two separate workouts featuring Paul George.
NCAA Weekly Performers, 3/10/10 March 10, 2010 Scott Nadler
Fresno State’s Paul George has steadily been climbing NBA draft boards since he broke out onto the national scene as a freshman last season. We were high on him a year ago and he’s certainly made improvements to his game – living up to the preseason hype that surrounded him in the beginning of the year. His versatility, athleticism and scoring ability are all part of the package of this highly talented small forward, and in a draft class limited with skilled wing players; George could be one of the best options at that position come June.
George has made huge strides from last season to this season, which is extremely encouraging considering the fact that he’s the go-to-guy on a struggling Bulldogs team and the focal point of every opposing defense. Despite all the attention, he’s averaging an impressive 20.3 points per 40 pace adjusted – getting the bulk of his points in transition and in spot up situations.
With a long and wiry frame, George runs the floor well and is good for a highlight reel dunk or strong finish at least once a game – which is one of his biggest improvements from last season. In ’08-’09, George converted a measly 39.3% of his shots around the basket. This year however, he’s finishing at a much higher rate, shooting a fantastic 55.8% at the rim, which dispels some of the questions regarding his lack of toughness.
He’s also increased his free throw attempts a game, albeit not by a considerable amount (3.9 FTA to 4.5 FTA), but it nonetheless shows his attention and focus to better his progress is in the right place. Furthermore, George has made a gigantic leap in his efficiency as a free throw shooter, going from a below 70% shooter from the charity stripe to making 90.6% of his attempts, ranking him 2nd in our entire database.
With that said, it would be nice to see George getting to the line more, and there are several reasons as to why he’s not doing so at a higher rate in his current state of development. Most glaring are his limitations as a shot-creator. He has average stationary ball handling skills and is capable of dribbling the ball on the perimeter at the WAC level, but when it comes to exploding by his man and getting into the teeth of the defense – he presently lacks that skill set. He plays a bit too upright and must learn how to play lower to the ground, which should enhance his ability to utilize his athleticism. Tightening up his ball-handling skills and improving his ability to create in the half-court will be a key part of his development moving forward.
Another reason is his love for the 3 point shot. George attempts 5.8 3-pointers a game, 6th in our database amongst all small forwards. At least one or two a night is of the settling nature – either an attempt early in the shot clock or a quick look in transition with no teammates in position to rebound. As his attempts per game have increased from 4.1 to 5.8, his percentage has dipped from an absurd 44.7% last season to 35.8% this season—a pretty dramatic drop-off.
George is not a very good off the dribble shooter at this point in time, but you would never guess that by the way he plays at times. He’s made just 5/28 attempts (a dismal 18%) of that nature in the 14 game-tapes we have at our disposal—showing how far off he is in this area. His talent level as a shot-maker should allow him to improve here down the road, but he should definitely try to avoid falling in love with his mid-range pull-up.
With that said, his shot is still one of his major selling points. He has an effortless stroke and unlimited range and in today’s NBA, teams are always looking for players who can help spread the floor. He doesn’t elevate particularly well on his shot, but with his excellent size, long wingspan and quick release, he doesn’t have a problem getting it off.
Another strong aspect of his game is in his ability to see the floor and his willingness to share the ball. With good size on the perimeter he can see over the defense and make difficult passes in the half court, averaging slightly over 3 assists a game which makes him one of the better passing small forwards in college basketball.
On the other hand, George averages the same amount of turnovers a game as he does assists. He can be very nonchalant with the basketball at times and tries to make spectacular passes on occasion when only a simple pass is needed. That nonchalant nature is consistent with his personality, which has raised questions about his on court effort. He tends to coast at times, just running up and down the court without great energy and not showing a real disposition to dominate the fairly weak competition he plays against in the WAC, something that obviously won’t cut it in the NBA.
As a defender, George has all the tools to be very solid on this side of the ball, but hasn’t fully put it all together just yet. He comes out of his stance too often and is unaware at times of his opponent’s strengths – backing off of a shooter or caroling a driver, suggesting he needs to pay more attention to scouting reports. Despite that, his length, anticipatory skills and quick hands have made George one of the nation’s leaders in steals, collecting over 2 a game.
No longer flying underneath the radar after a solid, yet inconclusive freshman season playing for a bad team in the weak WAC conference, Fresno State’s Paul George enters this season facing far higher expectations than he did last year.
Standing 6-7, with a very narrow frame, long arms and good, but not incredible athleticism, Paul George possesses prototypical physical attributes for an NBA small forward prospect, even if he currently sees more time at the power forward position. He has nice quickness and solid explosiveness, but still has yet to reach his full athletic potential with how underdeveloped his body appears to be at the moment.
Offensively, George’s main virtues clearly lie in his terrific perimeter shooting accuracy. He shot an outstanding 45% from beyond the 3-point line last year, on a more than adequate sample size of just over 4 attempts per game, making him one of the top NBA prospects in that category going into just his sophomore season. While his shooting mechanics are mostly flat-footed and a bit on the unorthodox side, his release is extremely quick and the results are obviously extremely impressive.
A pretty cool customer who does not appear to force the issue that often, George lets the game come to him and seems to be a pretty good teammate. He has the length and athleticism to make plays around the rim, particularly in transition using nice footwork and some quick spin moves, and is not afraid to attack the basket and try to finish emphatically with a powerful dunk. He gets to the free throw line in turn at a solid rate, even if he did not convert quite as well (70%) as you might hope from the charity stripe considering his prowess from beyond the arc. With only one season of college basketball underneath his belt, he obviously has plenty of time to improve on this part of his game. Despite being an excellent perimeter shooter with his feet set, his percentages drop off considerably when forced to pull-up off the dribble.
Beyond his ability to make spot-up perimeter jumpers and use his physical attributes around the basket, George is rather raw offensively at this point in time. Though he displays a very nice first step, he has a difficult time fully utilizing his athleticism due to his extremely underdeveloped ball-handling skills. George looks very limited trying to create shots for himself from the perimeter, even against the weak competition he faces in the WAC, struggling to change directions with the ball and being fairly turnover prone when forced to put his head down and make things happen.
George has a difficult time finishing plays around the basket at times due to his lack of strength, possibly lacking a degree of toughness here, and cannot really take advantage of his size advantage in the post at the WAC level due to these same reasons. He will likely take a few more years to fully fill out his frame with how underdeveloped he appears to be physically at this point in time.
Defensively, George has the physical tools (size, length, athleticism) to be a terrific option on this end of the floor, and will already make some terrific plays from time to time. He possesses the ability to fill up the stat-sheet with rebounds, steals and blocks, but also impresses with his ability to slide and smother opponents with his excellent length, appearing to have the potential to defend multiple positions at the next level. He still has a ways to go here too, though, looking a bit too upright trying to stay in front of smaller players on the perimeter, not always showing the best fundamentals, and likely lacking some experience defending the small forward position. Getting stronger will probably help, as will the added maturity that comes with another year of college basketball.
It will be interesting to see how George manages to deal with the notoriety of being (prematurely?) hyped by some this summer as a potential top-10 pick. Fresno State had a dreadful season last year (going 3-14 in the WAC), and George will be expected to carry his team offensively and lead them to much better results. Clearly he has the potential and then some to play at the next level with his intriguing physical attributes and budding skill-set, but it remains to be seen whether he’s prepared for the scrutiny of having NBA scouts at every game and practice of his as well as the burden of trying to carry a team on his back and make the NCAA tournament. We will have to wait patiently and see how things develop. [Read Full Article]