George spoke with #believethehype about his breakout season, All Star Weekend and the Pacers chances this season.
You have taken quite a leap this year on the court in nearly every statistic available. What do you attribute your rapid development to?
“It’s really just through confidence. More and more I got the opportunity to be on the floor and to really learn. I feel like I was put in a situation where I had to learn fast with Danny Granger going out. It really was like a growing up phase for my career.”
This season has been a breakout year for you, what do you think is the most improved aspect of your game in the last few seasons?
“Well really it’s just being confident. The ball handling has been there, the ability to make shots has been there. Really working on my ball handling has enabled me to do a lot of things on the floor.”
You’re a better player this year than you were last year. Was there anything specific that you worked on in the off season and what was your mindset coming into this season?
“Well ball handling was one of the things that I worked on a lot last summer. That was just something I knew I needed to get better at. I was just motivated. I knew from the Miami Heat series that I let the team down by not being aggressive and attack. So this year I definitely wanted to be aggressive and really force teams to honor me as well.”
With Danny Granger out right now, what were your thoughts when he went down before the season? Did you expect to have an All-Star calibre season with him sidelined?
“I did. To start the year off, that was definitely one of my goals. I just felt that I had the opportunity to do something special. With Danny being out, it really caused me to have to play at this level to really contribute and help this team out.”
How do you think your game will change once Danny returns?
“I still think I haven’t even come close to being at the peak of my game or prime of my game. I see myself being an elite scorer and a guy that can do it on both ends.”
Both you and your team have been able to keep away from the spotlight this season despite performing well without Danny Granger. What do you think of the second half of the season? Do you think people will start noticing the Pacers and yourself?
“No, it’s just what it is. Last year we were the 3rd team in the East and we still didn’t get the recognition. It is what it is. Our club being the Indiana Pacers we keep everything in-house. That’s really what motivates us that we’re not getting the main recognition from the league. Again, everything just stays inside the ball club and we just go and play.”
You’re a great defender. What is the most important thing on defence and what is your greatest defensive asset?
“Probably my length. That’s probably my greatest defensive asset. I have quick feet and the quickness to move with point guards to shooting guards to small forwards. So I can credit that to those areas. The first thing is just making it tough for an opponent. First off I just like to get into them and let him know that it’s a ball game right from the start.”
This season alone, you’ve become an All-Star. You’ve broken Reggie’s record of 3-pointers made in a single game. Is there anything else you would like to accomplish along with winning a championship?
“Yeah, being a perennial All-Star and having the opportunity to have people look up to you. A lot of the time you hear the comparisons of who guys are compared to and I think when you made a staple in the game people look up to you and want to be compared to you so that’s how I want to carry it out. Just to build my own legacy in this league.”
You seem to get challenged pretty hard by the best guys in the shooting guard position. I know that when you played Miami the other week you got some pretty close pressure from Dwyane Wade. How does it feel to play the big guys in the league and taken on like that?
“I mean it’s fun, it’s definitely fun. You get up for games like that when you have a challenge and I look at it as a challenge. Not only outperform them but getting my team a win. There’s not a lot of guys that do it in this league nowadays where they guard the best players the whole game and still help the team offensively so I look at it as a fun challenge.”
Who did you pattern your game after and what more do you think you can add to your game besides your ball handling that you worked hard on the past off season?
“Well I patterned my game after big guards. I always looked up to big guards like Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady and I always looked up to Kobe growing up. I mean I don’t pattern my game after them but those were definitely the guys I idolised from a basketball standpoint growing up. Just consistency, I can always get better at everything across the board but just being consistent is what I have to maintain.”
Paul George will be on show on All Star Saturday night participating in the Three Point Shootout and on Sunday night for the main event, the 2013 NBA All Star Game. #believethehype will be bringing you all the action from Houston, stay tuned!