Paul George has been quite good for the Los Angeles Clippers this season. The former MVP contender is averaging 25.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game while connecting on 51.5 percent of his shots from behind the three-point line. George’s latest big night came on Friday in a 138-100 thrashing of the Sacramento Kings in which he scored 26 points in 30 minutes of work.
Considering how last season ended for the Clippers and George in particular, seeing him get off to this sort of start has to be encouraging for everyone in L.A. And after Friday night’s game, George made clear that he is motivated by the team laying an egg en route to their shocking elimination in the Western Conference Semifinals at the hands of the Denver Nuggets last season, along with the discourse that surrounded him as the team got bounced.
“I’m coming back with vengeance,” George said of his mindset entering this season after he and the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead in the second round to Denver last postseason. “I didn’t like, not so much of the noise and everything around [the way last season ended], but just the fact that people saw weakness.
“And I had to address that. I had to answer that. That fueled me. That put me in a place where I wanted to come back and be myself again.”
George put forth some major stinkers in the postseason last year — he had a stretch against Dallas where he scored 34 total points in three games — and while he turned things around against Denver, he scored 10 points on 25 percent shooting in the Clippers’ Game 7 collapse. He was open about the toll being in the Bubble took on his mental health, and as he explained on Friday, he believes he’s in a much better place now, in part because of the health of his surgically-repaired shoulders.
“Almost two years removed from having my shoulders operated on,” George said. “So I am just in a healthier mind state, I am in a healthier place.”
In a pretty obvious statement, while Kawhi Leonard is brilliant, George has to play at an All-NBA level if the Clippers are going to come anywhere near their championship aspirations. At the very least, the team can take solace in knowing he agrees and is motivated to make sure that happens.