Last year was James Harden‘s breakout season. Released from the shackles in OKC, the Beard erupted for 25.9 points, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game, going from one of the best sixth men in the league to an MVP candidate. Now it’s Paul George‘s turn. The 6-9 Swiss Army knife has Indiana in first place in the NBA and is playing like one of the three or four best players in the world.
It’s unlikely they’ll meet in the Finals — the Pacers look like locks for at least the Eastern Conference Finals but Houston faces a rugged path out West — but the two swingmen will face off twice in the regular season. (The first matchup is actually next Friday in Indiana.)
Two up-and-coming All-Stars. Two potential MVP candidates. But we want to know which player you’d rather have: Paul George or James Harden? We argue. You decide.
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This NBA season has been nothing but amazing. The Western Conference is displaying complete dominance over an injury-ridden and depleted Eastern Conference. Through all the insanity, there have been some constants — such as LeBron James‘ dominance, or even the Spurs continuing to look like a championship team. On the other hand, the NBA has seen some new faces ready to take the reigns away from the proven veterans. Young-guns such as Paul George and James Harden have emerged as the new crop of perimeter superstars.
It is only natural to wonder who is currently the better talent between the two. Allow me to jump right into this by saying it’s Paul George. Yes, James Harden is one of the better shooting guards in the NBA, if not already the best, but there is something special about the Indiana swingman.
Paul George’s name did not become a household one until last season. He never looked back from there. The 2011-2012 season saw Paul George average 12 points per game, but after Danny Granger went down with a knee injury, George seized the moment and sought to become the new face of the Indiana Pacers. His growth into a superstar occurred so quickly, most did not know if he could sustain this level of play for a significant amount of time. He answered his critics’ doubts with standout performances for the remainder of the season and all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where he fell one game short of an NBA Finals appearance.
This season, he has shown why his breakout year was not a fluke. He is posting career-high scoring numbers and has the Indiana Pacers playing at an elite level. And even though both players are in similar positions — superstar wing player with a defensive specialist at center — George is the better of the two.