For the season, George still leads the team in scoring, averaging 22.6 points per game and making 45% of his shots. When PG is lighting up the scoreboard he's among the very elite players in the NBA. When he's not, as has been the case the past couple of weeks, he remains extremely valuable to the Pacers and key to every win.
Consider the Pacers win over Washington on Friday, when Paul George had his worst shooting night of the season, making a layup and dunk but missing the remaining 12 shot attempts to score a season-low 8 points. If all you saw was the box score, it would be easy to surmise that PG played awful. Yet, after the game Frank Vogel had this to say about George's play.
"Paul George dominated the game tonight," Vogel said. "He was 2-14, forget all of that. He had six assists, one turnover, 14 rebounds, 12 defensive rebounds and he guarded one of the best shooting guards in the NBA limiting him to 6-18 shooting."
The ability to do so many things at a high level at both ends of the floor is why the Pacers maxed out George before the season. Remember, PG wasn't a 25 PPG scorer when he signed his big deal. In fact, he averaged the same 17.4 points last year that he has while struggling offensively in the past five games.
The key to George making an impact on those off shooting nights is too stick with the game and don't let the frustrations distract him too much. PG is convinced he's not getting calls he deserves in the lane which is limiting his offensive production. At times this season, those frustrations have surfaced to cloud George's focus.
In Atlanta, George picked up a technical as the world, or at least the score, was caving in on the Pacers. Following that tech, though PG shifted his focus to everything he could control and played a big part in the Pacers comeback efforts, finishing with 28 points and 12 rebounds. But against the Wizards on Friday, the offense never came around but George simply found other ways to help his team win.
"When it's not going for you offensively, the next thing is to still be effective on the court," George said. "Whether I was in the pick and roll forcing one more pass, making their defense shift or rebounding the ball, I was going to make sure I made an impact."
George hasn't lost any confidence in his offense, but knows with the other offensive options on the floor for the Pacers, making sure he delivers on the defensive end is a priority. The Pacers have several options to help carry the offensive load which gives them an advantage over most other teams.
"Defensively, I like to lead and be our defensive player," George said. "Other teams usually have that one guy who can get hot, so I try to limit that one guy that can get hot and then I just feel like everything else will take care of itself."
David West doesn't want anyone judging PG's play by the stat sheet. The Pacers will still play through George on offense, but as West mentioned, the Pacers aren't built to rely on one guy to carry the offensive load. They have a bunch of guys capable of carrying the load so when one guy has an off shooting night, they can still win the game.
But not every team has a Paul George on defense and the various ways he can slow down other teams is where PG's value to the team shines through.
"Defensively, we know he's elite," West said of George. "He can guard every position on the floor, can make plays with his hands on a continuous basis, not just in spots which makes his impact huge for us."