By now you have probably seen the short film Nike released on Christmas Day wherein four kids set out to determine who their favorite player is by going straight to the source, the players themselves: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Elena Delle Donne, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Kobe Bryant and Paul George, who is shown, rather predictably, fishing on a yacht.
Seen gathering around him for "hot tub book club time," Peanut, Shawn, Toni, and Angel soon find out that George's highlight-packed style of play is the polar opposite of his laid back personality away from the game.
Though completely fictional (we think?), this particular scene from the ad campaign allows one's mind to wonder about the would-be make-up of a hypothetical Blue & Gold book club led by Paul George.
Should such a thing ever come to fruition, here are a few title recommendations for the two-way star to consider putting on his reading list:
Stuck in a cheese-less situation (losers of 4 of their last 5 games), Johnson's bestselling book on dealing with change could be a real conversation starter for the Pacers. Asking themselves if they identify more with Sniff and Scurry (the mice who changed and went in search of new cheese), Hem (who wants things back the way they were), or Haw (who is robbed of his confidence by Hem, before choosing to move with the cheese and brave the maze) could spark some in-depth collaborative discussion.
Over the summer, Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers quickly realized that the Golden State Warriors' lineup of death had moved their cheese. In parting with Roy Hibbert, David West, and Luis Scola, they anticipated this change and prepared to enjoy new cheese playing faster and smaller, but they haven't exactly adapted quickly. In other words, the Pacers have been wiling to venture outside Station C, but they haven't discovered the new location of the cheese, yet (Indiana's spread lineup has been outscored by 6.2 points per 100 possessions).
Showing patience is hard, but it's worth it.
That's the moral of the story in this installation of the "Elephant and Piggie" children's series by Mo Willems. A lesson which could, perhaps, stand to be heeded with regards to Paul George's latest scoring slump:
"It's part of this recovery process everybody has to be patient with. He came out of the gates with an explosion in November, and he seems like he is a little bit fatigued. Every team in the league is playing 82 games and other guys are getting fatigued, we've got to battle through it." Vogel said following Friday's loss to the Washington Wizards. "He's probably feeling (it) a lot more because he was off for a year, and he's playing on a rebuilt leg. We just have to be patient with that and support him and keep trying to get him rest on practice days and what not, and try to get him to come around."
Averaging seven fewer points on below 40 percent shooting while playing below .500 basketball in January, assuming Paul George will be able to put forth another month like November may seem foolhardy, but it is important to remember that the two-way star is one of only six players in the NBA who have run over 100 miles on the court this season.
Gerald had to wait all day for Piggie's surprise. The sky got dark, and he wondered if they had waited too long. He questioned if they would even be able to see the thing his best friend wanted to give him. Then the sky was filled with wondrous stars, and Piggie pointed upward to show Gerald exactly what they had been waiting for.
Showing patience was worth the reward.
For the Pacers, giving Paul George the opportunity to get his legs back underneath him may, too, be well-worth the wait, even if the sky gets a little dark in the immediate.
It is extremely doubtful that Judith Martin included a section on acceptable player-official interaction among her "fresh updates," but if she did, this would need to top the team's reading list.
Between Paul George's post-game altercation with Marcus Morris and his six technical fouls and repeated public criticism of officials, Indiana's top scorer has racked up $68,000 in fines this season.
Not unlike the salt which allowed Dr. Jekyll to change back from Mr. Hyde, the essential ingredient (C.J. Miles) which allows Indiana to transform back-and-forth from Smashmouth basketball to the spread lineup is also running low. Back in November, the Pacers knocked down 41 percent of their 3-point attempts. Since the start of the New Year, that number has fallen by 12 percentage points (29%). Miles is shooting 26 percent over that same span of time, and Indiana's most used lineup with him at the four-spot is getting outscored by a woeful 18.6 points per 100 possessions.
With porous defense (DefRtg: 114.7) and an inability to keep opponents off the offensive glass (DREB%: 57.7%), Indiana's small-ball experiment may soon meet the same fate as Dr. Jekyll.
A thorough reading of Stevenson's novel could further clue in the Pacers to the challenges of trying to be two things at once.
It's cut and dry. The Pacers, despite having end-of-game options a plenty, are struggling in crunch time. Indiana is surrendering 121.3 points in the final three minutes of games that are within five points, which is only better than the Kings (122.0), Suns (127.9), and Sixers (137.4).
The Pacers are seemingly having better luck assisting their opponents in crunch time than they are putting the ball in their own basket, scoring just 93.2 points per 100 possessions in the final three minutes of games.
Even if this book was written for salesmen, given the data, is there really further need to explain why Indiana could stand to bone up on becoming a Master Closer?