Be vigilant and on your watch, small forwards of the NBA; Indiana Pacers wing Paul George is coming for you and your kin. He aims to lay waste to all you hold holy, to be the greatest small forward in the league. And his path to the top, like that of a Mortal Kombat character, involves defeating all who might stand in his way, on a nightly basis.
Wrong or right, George stole the show. In hindsight, maybe we should have seen it coming due to George’s motivational goal to become the best small forward in the league. He revealed that he gets up for games against the rising wing players who posses a threat to challenge him for small forward supremacy.
Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum just happened to be on the schedule at the wrong time.
“I feel like I’m competing with Carmelo [Anthony], K.D [Kevin Durant] and LeBron [James],” George told CSNNW.com. “I’m not taking nothing away from Batum or other small forwards in this league, but I feel like those guys are my competition and they’re who I’m going for.
“To get where I want to get to, nights like these and matchups like these are where I have to separate myself and I think I did that. Would have just liked to get a win out of it.”
So it’s probably not a coincidence that on the night George faces off against one of the upper-tier small forwards in the league in Nicolas Batum, he goes off for a career-high 43 points. George is a wayward conqueror, raging from port to port across this great land to lay siege to his opponents. He is a Greek trireme — perfectly suited to the task at hand, eminently impenetrable, able to crash headlong into an enemy, completely without fear and cognizant of the damage that will lay in his wake — among a defense so unyielding that the coastlines of Athenian Indiana shall forever be shielded.
And George’s presence as a perfect cog in the machine-like efficiency of the Pacers defense belies his words when it comes to his conquering decree. As the positional revolution marches forward, George states his ambition to be the best of the league’s small forwards, regardless of the ever-increasing categorization of players in his position as wings. For George and the Pacers, however, positions are still a tried truism; while coach Frank Vogel seems perfectly content to mix and match his perimeter players as the need arises, Indiana at its most formidable brings forth a 1-5, pentagonal polychotomy in which every player has his role and position. George Hill at the point; Lance Stephenson, the quintessential shooting guard; David West, a power forward nonpareil; Roy Hibbert, center over all — the four give rise to Paul George, small forward, ingraining within the mind of our Visigoth protagonist the way in which he approaches his adversaries and his own role as a member of Indiana’s standing basketball army.
If George is a true small forward, though, such a label is far from limiting. The precision in the Pacers’ schemes allows George to be their linchpin, serving all purposes and answering all questions. His defense is second-to-none when compared to his compatriots throughout the league; only LeBron James, positionless and peerless, stands even shoulder-to-shoulder with George’s abilities as a perimeter stopper. And from the stability of his own making and that of the structure around him, George has grown leaps and bounds as an offensive player in just the basketball equivalent of a unit of Planck time. From a player whose dubious splitting of a double team defied his coach’s orders just a year ago to the marauding force on offense he is now, George has more than risen to the occasion. Bearing his flaming sword of unbridled desire to be the very best at what he does, bar none, he seeks to slake his thirst at the expense of his counterparts.
To those who might complain about the softening of the NBA by the friendships between adversaries, cast your contentious gaze to Paul George. He isn’t here to make any friends. He’s here for your small forwards and your plowshares, a barbarian with an encyclopedic knowledge of your tendencies and weaknesses. Shudder before him, wail at his coming, speak what prayers you may have. He cares not for your concerns, for soon enough, they’ll lie defeated at his feet. Embrace the victories that you can, as Portland did last night; while you might win the battle, Paul George is here to win the war.