You had to know it was coming. The Pacers’ newest All-Star, Paul George, will reportedly be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season. While there were a handful of candidates, George upped his game in more ways than one. He didn’t just get more opportunities — he took advantage of Indiana’s best player (Danny Granger) being out and morphed into a clutch, late game go-to guy for the No. 3 seed in the East. He didn’t just improve during the summer — he fixed the holes in his game throughout the season and learned how to play against double-teams, climaxing in January and February when he put up some of the best numbers among small forwards all year. And he wasn’t feasting on lottery-bound teams — George repeatedly squared up against some of the best at his position (LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay) and more than held his own.
For the year, he averaged career-highs in points (17.4 a game), rebounds (7.6), assists (4.1) and steals (1.8), and saw his minutes skyrocket up to nearly 38 a night. He was the key for Indiana’s second-half surge, really the only consistent perimeter player, and during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs this weekend against Atlanta, George showed how far he’s come.
George is also the fourth player in franchise history to win the award, joining Granger, Jalen Rose and Jermaine O’Neal.
Paul George of the Indiana Pacers will be named the 2012-13 Most Improved Player, sources confirm. Official announcement to come.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 23, 2013
Did George deserve this award?
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