Paul George, who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers (7-4) in the offseason, missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. George returned to practice this week, and he’s expected to play on Thursday against the Pelicans in New Orleans, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The PG-13 era has almost arrived in Hollywood. With all this talk about how “load management” and resting players hurts the integrity of the regular season, George has a chance to make everyone forget about Kawhi sitting out a game once a week. George brings it on both ends of the court as a premier scorer and defender, which will help the Clippers immensely.
The Lakers (9-2) boast the best record in the Western Conference thanks to the addition of Davis. Kawhi and the Clippers managed to win seven games without George, and didn’t fall too far behind the front runners.
Palmdale > Fresno > Indiana
George was never a bona fide superstar from the womb, like say, Anthony Davis. AD was one of the premier high school recruits in the nation. He went to Kentucky as a formality, and became one of their greatest one-and-done players in a program that has been a factory and pipeline for NBA All-Stars.
George, a 6-foot-8 swingman, fielded scholarships, but to smaller programs such as Santa Clara and Pepperdine. He inevitably chose Fresno State because he knew he could step in and play immediately.
George averaged 14.3 points as a freshman. In his junior season, he improved to 16.8 ppg and 7.2 rebounds per game. After two seasons with the Bulldogs, George headed to the NBA. The Indiana Pacers selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
George wasn’t a superstar right away, but he steadily improved each season in the NBA. He started 19 games as a rookie, but only averaged 7.8 ppg in 21 minutes of action. In his second season, George became a full-time starter, and his scoring increased to 12.1 ppg and 5.6 rebounds per game.
George finally broke out in his third season. He averaged 17.4 ppg, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. George won the NBA Most Improved Player, and hasn’t looked back since. He’s averaged at least 21 points in every full season since then.
Indiana > OKC > Hollywood
The Indiana Pacers realized they couldn’t retain George’s services when his rookie contract ran out. In 2017, the Pacers traded George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Thunder hoped George could be a compliment for Russell Westbrook for one season before he left in free agency.
Everyone expected George would split for Los Angeles in the offseason to join LeBron James with the Lakers. PG-13 grew up in the LA suburbs as a diehard Lakers fan, and it was the worst-kept secret in the NBA that LeBron would jump ship in Cleveland and bolt for Hollywood.
George surprised everyone by staying with the OKC Thunder instead of joining LBJ in LA. The world found out when a video appeared on social media featuring Paul at Westbrook’s season-ending party.
In his second season with OKC, George led the team in scoring, and posted a career high with 28.0 ppg, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.
The Westbrook and PG-13 dynamic duo only lasted two seasons before George joined forces with Kawhi Leonard to play with the LA Clippers.
The wheels fell off the bus in OKC, and management decided to gut the team and trade away their stars to focus on rebuilding. The Thunder traded Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and picks. PG-13 headed to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers paid a hefty price to acquire George, and they traded five, first rounders, plus Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
After missing the first 11 games rehabbing from shoulder surgery, the moment has almost finally arrived for George to don a Clippers uniform.