Our player preview series for the 2024 Clippers season continues with Paul George, the Clippers’ best podcaster and second best player.

Basic Information

Height: 6’8″

Weight: 220 pounds

Position: Shooting Guard/ Small Forward

Age: 33

Years in NBA: 13

Key Clippers Stats: 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.5 steals, and 3.1 turnovers in 34.6 minutes per game across 56 games on 45.7/37.1/87.1 shooting splits with 58.8% TS in the regular season.

Contract Status: $45.6M this season; player option for next season ($48.7M); currently extension eligible.

Expectations

Paul George is still a fantastic player who can take over games on both sides of the ball at the same time. The Clippers organization, Clippers Nation, and Paul George himself should expect another fringe-all-star season; specifically, he ought to be top two on the Clippers in scoring and be towards the top in steals, rebounds, and assists.

Recently, on ESPN, it was said that Paul George is moving with a “quiet confidence” this summer. Whether or not that is true is mostly irrelevant; the Clippers should, however, expect George to be a bit stronger as a “leader.” The last few years have been a roller coaster for several reasons, but George is entering his fifth season with the Clippers: it is time for George to be more vocal and more confident in himself and his teammates.

It has become a recurring joke (some would say, nightmare) to say that Paul George is the shadow General Manager of this team: Patrick Patterson, Reggie Jackson, John Wall, and, now, Russell Westbrook have been added to this roster at George’s urging. This year, the Clippers’ organization should expect George to take on the responsibility to elevate this roster instead of searching his rolodex for another friend to add to the team.

Strengths

Again, Paul George is still a two-way monster. His shooting efficiency remains strong, especially considering how many shots he takes per game, and he contributes in the less-valued categories like rebounds and assists (see more on his passing below, though). Along with his efficiency, George also has a great variety to his game: he is a true “three level” scorer, and can create his own shot as well as catch-and-shoot within the flow of the offense. Paul George simply does not have many on-court weaknesses as a basketball player, and is easily a top 25 player in the NBA when healthy.

Off the court, Paul George has mitigated his liability a lot this summer through, of course, his hit show Podcast P. How George became so hated within NBA Twitter is a mystery (although I am sure it is rooted in the fact he plays for the Clippers instead of the Lakers) but it was indisputable that he was the butt of several jokes. Through the podcast, however, one sees that is a much more thoughtful person than his reputation would suggest. He is also really funny, as his impressions of Doc Rivers, Charles Barkley, and more have gone viral. For a team whose “vibes” have been extremely ugly at time over George’s tenure, a more relaxed and light-hearted PG would be a good step in the right direction.

Weaknesses

First, Paul George is a turnover machine. Last season, he averaged 3.1 per game but it, sincerely, felt like he averaged six or seven. And his turnover issues had a real effect on the team: he averaged 3.4 turnovers in losses and only 2.9 in wins. Of players who played at least 50 games last season, George was 15th in turnovers. After the All Star break (around the time Westbrook joined the team), George’s turnover average went down, but the Clippers should remember that George as the primary ball handler is not a safe bet.

Second, George has availability issues. No, he is not the load manager people think he is. But it is undeniable that he has been unlucky with injuries (whether or not he is “injury prone” is not for me to say). Going into his fourteenth season at the age of 33, there is only so much the Clippers can do to keep George on the court; over time, the body is more likely to succumb to injuries.

Summary

In sum, Paul George is still a great, great player. But the Clippers need George to be (1) consistently available and (2) more focused on what he can control. That means less recruiting of friends and trying to negotiate what his role on the team should be. He simply needs to be the two-way monster that he has been 75% of the time and turn the dial up to 95%+ of the time. At 33 years old, this might be one of the last seasons in which he can count on his elite athleticism, so hopefully he plays and is still the star Paul George we all think he can be.

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