The Los Angeles Clippers are ready to move on from Paul George and give Kawhi Leonard the No. 1 role in their lineup.
The Clippers’ Paul George Ready to Take Kawhi Leonard’s No. 1 Role is a story about how the Clippers are ready to take over as the new team in charge of the NBA.
Clippers’ Paul George (Getty)
There will be plenty of chances for Clippers players to express themselves during the next NBA season, to help the club navigate through the loss of Kawhi Leonard, who will be sidelined for the most, if not all, of the season as he recovers from surgery on his torn right ACL in July. Terance Mann, a third-year guard, will have an opportunity to play a more regular role. Eric Bledsoe, the new guard, will also get an opportunity to shine with the club that selected him.
Reggie Jackson, Justise Winslow, and Luke Kennard are all Clippers who would have a shot if Leonard were healthy.
Still, until Leonard returns to the court, the Clippers’ success will be determined by the one player who has nearly as much skill as Leonard: Paul George. And George is well aware of the fact that he must continue to quiet the many skeptics who have remained throughout his two mostly unsuccessful years with the Clippers.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, George stated, “It’s simply an attitude where I don’t give a f***.” “I couldn’t care less. That’s exactly how I’m going to assault the court right now. I don’t need validation, as I already said. The only thing that counts – the only thing that matters to me — is that I be my harshest critic.”
The Misadventure of ‘Playoff P’
The fact that George nicknamed himself “Playoff P” during the 2018 NBA playoffs, while he was playing for Oklahoma City, has long been a source of controversy. After giving himself the moniker, he scored 36 points on 13-for-20 shooting in the game, but went on to shoot only 36.0 percent from the field for the remainder of the series, which ended in a first-round defeat to Utah.
The Thunder fell to Portland in just five games the next season, but George’s playoff troubles to a head in the Orlando bubble, where George subsequently acknowledged he was suffering from mental health concerns. He scored 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting in the Clippers’ dismal Game 7 loss in the conference playoffs against Denver, averaging 20.2 points on 39.8 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from outside the arc.
Last year, following Leonard’s injury in Game 4 of the conference semifinals, George averaged 26.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in 19 playoff games, leading the Clippers to their first-ever Western Conference finals.
At last month’s media day, George said that he was ready to take on more responsibility, most likely as a lead scorer for the first time since his stint in Indiana during the first seven years of his 12-year career.
“I mean, I saw what I needed to see going into this year,” George said. “Being down Kawhi, I believe we showed what we’re capable of.” That was just enough, knowing what I needed to bring, what I needed to add, and what I needed to focus on heading into this summer. I’m all set. This year, I’m prepared to battle. I’ve been in this situation before. Being the No. 1 man to begin with gives me a sense of security.”
‘I Took a Lot of Criticism,’ Paul George says.
The irony of George’s performance in the postseason last year, given what had occurred in the previous playoffs, is that his failure on the bubble, and his inability to avoid the accompanying criticism, helped him alter his mentality.
Chuck Responds to Clippers Star Paul George Saying He Gets More Criticism in the Media | NBA on TNTChuck reacts to Clippers star Paul George Saying He Gets More Criticism in the Media | NBA on TNT Watch clips from Shaq, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, and more from Inside the NBA! To stay up to date on the newest videos, subscribe now: youtube.com/nbaontnt?sub confirmation=1 TNT is where you can connect with the NBA: On Twitter, follow NBA on TNT at twitter.com/NBAonTNT…2021-06-30T04:09:18Z
He’ll need to maintain that mentality in his new Clippers position without Kawhi Leonard. As he told the New York Times,
For a long time in my career, I was heavily chastised for many reasons, including coming up short and not playing well. I was subjected to a great deal of criticism. And I was the kind of person who would believe what others said. But then, particularly after coming out of the bubble, it came to the point where I was like, “I don’t need affirmation, you know what I mean?”… I give it my all in this game. I put in long hours. Occasionally, the outcomes are inadequate. It’s part of the game that not everyone is a champion, that not everyone is this, that not everyone is that. But in the game of basketball, all that counts is that I come out here and play as hard as I can, and that I’m a wonderful teammate. Everything else is beside the point for me.
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