The Indiana Pacers haven’t been the same since Paul George broke his leg in the Olympics. The 2014-2015 season was a waste, as Indiana missed the playoffs.
The off-season hasn't been any better. This summer the Pacers shipped Roy Hibbert to the Lakers. David West was so disappointed in the roster they were putting together that he opted out of his contract and left 10 million dollars on the table.
The only bright spot is that Paul George will be back and ready to go for the season opener. Last week, Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird spoke from Summer League in Las Vegas, and discussed his team’s desire to play at a faster pace next season. In order to achieve that goal, the Pacers will play Paul George at power forward more this year.
Apparently this is something PG is willing to do, but not exclusively. If Paul George wants the Pacers and himself to play at the highest level this season, he will welcome the role at power forward.
Upon viewing his teammates and the level of competition in the East, Paul George will realize that playing power forward will be great for his production.
The Pacers lost both frontcourt starters and 6th man forward Luis Scola to free agency. Indiana has lost a lot of size in the frontcourt, but this could open doors to a quicker playing style. Playing in an uptempo offense will better suit Paul George and the current roster of players on Indiana.
A 6’9 and 230 pounds, Paul George is a unique blend of speed and power. Many power forwards in the East will have a hard time running the floor with George in transition. In the half court, his skill set can be just as damaging. Paul can hit three’s with ease, which will force slower defenders to chase him around the perimeter. Upon viewing the footage, you can see how helpless small forwards are against him in the half court. Can you imagine a player with 30 more pounds on them trying to chase him around the floor?
Defensively, playing 82 games can take a toll on your body. Paul George is coming off a vicious leg injury. Indiana should proceed with caution in regards to throwing him into the fire too much on both sides of the floor. If George wants to relieve some of the pressure on his body, playing power forward makes the most sense.
While traditional power forwards are few and far in between nowadays in the NBA. Most are hybrid players who have similar body builds to Paul. Teams will be forced to go with a smaller lineup to guard him on the other side of the floor as well.
Switching your star small forward over to power forward for a season has been done before in the past with great success. NBA Superstar Carmelo Anthony switched over in 2013-2014 and had a career season as he led the NBA in scoring. One of the secrets to his success was the lack of pressure he faced on the defensive side of the floor. He no longer had to chase players around the perimeter, which made things easier on him.
If Paul George wants to lead the Pacers back into contention in 2015, he will need to accept the counsel of Larry Bird. Playing the power forward position during points in the game will make Paul George a more effective player and the Pacers a better team in 2015-2016.