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Defensive Strategies: Paul George

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This series will provide strategies on how defenses can best guard, or attempt to guard, some of the most dangerous offensive players and actions. Today’s post will try to show how defenses can slow down the offense of the Indiana Pacers Paul George. 

Paul George had a superb third season, averaging 17.4 points per game in the regular season and cemented his status as an elite player by averaging nearly 20 points per game in the playoffs and leading his team to within a game of the NBA Finals. The Pacers will be a top Eastern Conference team again this season and slowing down George will be key to stopping the offensive attack of the Pacers.

Force him to create in the half court

George struggled when forced to create his own offense of the dribble, as he scored only 0.72 points per possession (PPP) in isolation situations last season and 0.71 PPP as a pick and roll ball handler. Most of his offense came in transition or spot up and cuts in half court sets. While there is still plenty of time in his young career to improve this part of his game, defenses would be wise to force George to create off the dribble which would give the defense the advantage in these situations.

When he tries to take defenders off the dribble, he isn’t able to get the whole way to the rim yet and has to settle for pull up jump shots. George doesn’t seem to quite have that skill yet of other elite offensive players of being able to beat defenders with his speed off his first step or with his strength to body through defenders to the rim. Defenders are able to stay in front of him while remaining on balance and George cannot get a layup attempt. This causes him to pull up for mid range shots instead of trying to get the whole way to the rim.

George is a decent three point shooter, shooting 36% from 3 point land last season. Defenses should pressure George once he catches the ball to not allow him to take a comfortable three point attempt. Instead, they should force George to put the ball on the floor to try the beat the defense, which puts the defense in a favorable position, as this is not one of George’s strengths.

In the pick and roll, George struggles when forced to create offense for himself off the screen. Again, he doesn’t seem to have the ability to force his way to the rim and it is even more difficult for him with the second defender hovering around him. This forces George to try to get creative to beat the defense by splitting the defense or taking a long route to the rim, which often forces him into a turnover.

Don’t double him in the post

George didn’t post up often, as he had only 87 regular season possessions categorized as post ups by Synergy Sports. He was not very effective in these small sample sizes, averaging 0.77 PPP in the regular season. His footwork in the post is non-existent and he is unable to beat a single defender regularly by either backing them down or when he faces up against them. He either throws up a wild shot, takes a low efficiency mid range jump shot or turns the ball over in the middle of his move. When he does post up, defenses should rely on the single defender to cover him and not rotate anyone else over to him.

When defenses do shade a second defender toward George in these post up situations, George is a great passer to the open man, leading to easy attempts. As shown above, George is not an elite finisher when forced to take a defender on one on one so there is no point in sending a second defender over. This only allows George to find the open man, which often leads to a better attempt than if the defense allowed George to create while staying home on their own man.

Defenses should force George to show he can beat them when posting up before they start to send a second defender at him. George likes to post up at the high post, playing right into the defense’s hand. George doesn’t have the ability to beat the defense from this position, either by backing his defender down or beating his defender off the dribble. He can beat the defense by passing out of the post, so defenses should not send a second defender until George proves he is a reliable scorer from this position.

Overall

George is going to get open shots due to his athletic ability and his teammates being able to find him for open spot up jump shots. Teams are going to have to live with him scoring points but there are ways to limit the damage. Following these two recommendations will put George in situations where he struggles and will help the defense slow down his production level.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

2 Responses

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