That’s why despite going to Fresno State, a relatively small school that’s part of the Mountain West Conference, and deciding to turn pro after just his sophomore season, the Indiana Pacers selected him 10th overall in the 2010 draft.
On Tuesday against the somewhat struggling Miami Heat, the third-year forward had one of the best games of his career, tallying 27 points (12-27 FG, 4-9 3FG), 11 rebounds, two assists, just one turnover and excellent defense on LeBron James, the reigning MVP and most dominant player in the NBA.
George held James to 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting and helped force the do-it-all positionless beast into seven turnovers, which tied a season high.
“I was just coming out here to give him a tough time,” George told Fox Sports during his on-court interview following his masterpiece.
The most important aspect of this performance is the confidence it will help build. As Stan Van Gundy noted in this episode of SheridanHoopsRadio, George was a major disappointment for the Pacers last year in their conference semifinals series against the Heat.
“This was a chance for me to see where I’m at, both offensively and defensively,” explained George. “Last year I struggled a little bit against these guys. Tonight I just wanted to be aggressive, attack ’em and luckily my shots were going down. I was able to pick and choose my shots and fortunately again, they went down.
“Like I said, it feels good.”
George already has played a crucial role in leading the Pacers to a 21-14 record without star wing Danny Granger, as his stats are up across the board. He is averaging 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, along with his stellar perimeter defense.
The small forward is making double the amount of 16-to-23 foot jumpers while shooting 37 percent, according to Hoopdata.com. George is also taking more than twice as many 3-pointers per game (2.5 to 5.3) this season. The spike in confidence can be attributed to working on his jumper to make it more fluid – he had a slower, more sideways-rotating shot – along with becoming more acclimated to the speed of the NBA game.