Some days are more special than others — whether because of a birthday of a loved one or a national holiday. But for Paul George, all of the days since the start of his 12th season have been nothing less than special: 20 games into the season, the seven-time All-Star has been making headlines, averaging 25.9 points, 5.2 assists, and 7.5 rebounds per contest.
Although this level of performance — and the accompanying MVPG comments and worldwide attention — is nothing new for George, it is a positive shift from his first not-so-hype-worthy moments in a Clippers uniform. Following his lackluster performance in the bubble, he was met by harsh slander and, at times, ludicrous claims discrediting his game. From “Playoff P” jokes to re-appearing clips of his corner three attempt hitting the side of the backboard, he became the joke of the league.
Since then, George slowly but surely put in the work. He re-teamed up with his trainer from his OKC days, further developed his play-making abilities, and eventually carried a Kawhi-less Clippers team to the Western Conference Finals. In so doing, the Palmdale native rebuilt his reputation for being one of the league’s very best. But it wasn’t until the start of this year’s campaign that the noise died down and he finally started to receive more widespread love.
Most commonly, it seems as if the millions of keyboard warriors and couch GMs have disappeared from social media. If anything, every post on the Clippers, the MVP race, or George himself seems to be decorated with comments of Clippers fans and NBA fans all alike praising George. I mean, you can’t blame them when he is out on the hardwood dunking on players and draining game-tying buzzer-beaters.
The recent wave of acclaim isn’t only coming from the fans, though. To start the month of November, George was placed in a batch of players — alongside the likes of LaMelo Ball, Ja Morant, and Karl-Anthony Towns — whose 2K ratings went up in the video game's first update to their player ratings of the season. The Clipper has been bumped up from an 88 to a 90, ranked above other All-Star wings like DeMar DeRozan, Jaylen Brown, and Donovan Mitchell.
Good vibes followed him into the next week: George was named the NBA Western Conference Player of the Week, leading the team to a 4-0 record. And rightfully so — he continued to ride on adrenaline and put up an impressive 26.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Now he has just one game left in what was an awe-inspiring November campaign: a matchup against the Pelicans. Their best player, Brandon Ingram, has been having a rough start to the year without much help from his teammates (they are without Zion Williamson and lost key pieces like Lonzo Ball in free agency, after all). That doesn’t necessarily mean the 14th seed has no shot at coming out of STAPLES with an upset — the last time the two teams faced off, Jonas Valančiūnas posted a 26-point double-double to hand the Clippers their second consecutive loss.
George will look to avenge the loss — the icing on his November cake would be helping his team win one more game.
When: Monday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. PT
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: The Bird Writes
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers (11-9): Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Pelicans (5-17): Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valančiūnas
Clippers: Brandon Boston, Keon Johnson, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston, Nicolas Batum — OUT
Pelicans: Daulton Hommes, Didi Louzada, Zion Williamson — OUT