Paul George is an emerging superstar on an Indiana Pacers team that is a legitimate title contender. The 23-year-old is averaging a team-best 22.9 points per game and has led his squad to a 36-10 record, good for first place in the Eastern Conference. Despite both individual and team success, however, George faced struggles in the month of January that have now carried over into February.
George caught fire as the season began, dropping 28 points on 48.6 percent shooting in the two games of October. From the start of November until the end of December, the 6-9 swingman led the Pacers to 23 wins and just five losses. Then the New Year arrived and it has not been kind.
Since 2014 opened its doors, the player that was once–not too long ago–in the conversation with LeBron James and Kevin Durant as MVP candidates, has been struggling. He hasn’t appeared to be the Paul George who captivated millions around the country with his performance in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat last June, pushing the defending champions to the brink of elimination. Rather, he looks like a player in flux.
In the month of January, George’s numbers plummeted. Not only did the Pacers lose the same amount of games (five) that they lost throughout the whole season up to that point, but the former No. 10 overall pick shot 41 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from three-point range, scoring 21 points per game. These aren’t necessarily “bad” numbers, but they were certainly down from the previous few months.
From November 1 to December 31, George scored more points per game (23.5), shot better from both the field (47 percent) and from beyond the arc (39.8 percent) than in January. His turnover rate had gone up from 2.5 per game to 3.1, while his court +/- went from 10.7 to 2.9.
In George’s last three January games, he was unable to eclipse 20 points or even shoot 40 percent from the floor. The result? Two losses.
Against the Denver Nuggets on January 25, George shot 6-of-18 from the field, missing all four three-point attempts. He finished with 18 points and four turnovers as the Pacers fell to the under .500 Nuggets, 109-96.
In a 104-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers three days later, George’s struggles continued. He scored 14 points on 4-of-21 shooting (19 percent), knocking down one trey in six attempts.
Finally, as his worst offensive season since November of last season–statistically speaking–came to an end, George hit just 5-of-17 shots in a loss to the Phoenix Suns at home, scoring 12 points and turning the ball over four times.
All of these charts highlight what George’s most alarming issue has become: shooting midrange and three-pointers.