COMMENTARY | When it comes to the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award, there are a few names basketball fans expect to hear every year -- LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. Well, this year, you can add Indiana Pacers guard Paul George to that list.
George has more than answered the call when it comes to taking the reigns as the Indiana Pacers' franchise player. Through just 10 games, the fourth-year guard out of Fresno State is averaging 23.3 points per game, ranked seventh in the NBA. But when it comes to the MVP race, the actual name of the award sometimes gets lost in all the statistics and "flashy" plays each player creates.
Most Valuable Player.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, valuable is defined as:
valu·able adjective \ˈval-yə-bəl, -yə-wə-bəl, -yü-ə-\
- worth a lot of money
- very useful or helpful
- important and limited in amount
A lot of times, it seems that the MVP trophy goes to whoever ends the most individual accolades. But when it comes to the value of a player, shouldn't we be looking at his contributions to the team, and how the team is adversely affected by those contributions?
Comparing George to a LeBron James or Kevin Durant is not something anyone is comfortable in doing just yet. The achievements by those two NBA superstars are not even comparable to what little George has accomplished thus far. That being said, it appears that the Pacers benefit more from George's presence than the Miami Heat from LeBron or the Oklahoma City Thunder from Durant.
With Oklahoma City, it appears that following the injury in the 2013 NBA playoffs, Russell Westbrook might just be the Batman in that Batman-and-Robin scenario. For as good as Durant is, he was unable to even bring his team to a competitive level without Westbrook on the floor.
In Miami, though LeBron James is the clear-cut best player in the league, the Miami Heat would be able to compete at a decent level without James. A team with a core of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers would be able to make the playoffs in the weakened Eastern Conference easily.
In Indiana, however, the Pacers struggled for years because of the lack of a leadership presence on the court. The signing of David West brought the veteran leadership, but Indiana was still missing that true player who could shoulder the load and carry this team.
They've found it in George.
Paul George became just the third player in NBA history to begin the season with eight straight 20+ point games and eight straight wins this season in leading Indiana to a 9-1 record through 10 games. The other two? Wilt Chamberlain in 1960, and Dave Bing in 1970. In Indiana's one loss to Chicago on November 16? George scored only 12 points, his first sub-20 point game on the season, and, coincidentally, Indiana's first loss of the season.
However, it's not only George's offensive level of play that has elevated itself -- his defensive work in the offseason is paying dividends. In rebounds, 6.1 of George's seven per-game have come on the defensive end. Not all the statistics, however, can prove George's worth on defense. George's hustle and length have disrupted players on the offense and created turnovers.If you don't believe George deserves to be MVP, you have to at least believe he is in the conversation. George's growth over the past year from role player and the NBA's most improved player to team leader is one of that the league has seen blossom before it's very eyes.
Pacers fans should be excited that this fourth-year player has already signed a multi-year contract extension and is here for a long time to come. George has MVP potential, it's just a matter of whether the voters see it the same way.
Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com.
Joe Tacosik is a freelance writer and part-time contributor for Bleacher Report who has grown up in and around Indiana Pacers basketball. You can read him on Bleacher Report and JoeTacosik.com.
You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeBobTaco.
- Sports & Recreation
- Paul George
- Indiana Pacers
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant