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Better Know a Prospect: Paul George, G - Fresno State

Paul George has the highest upside out of all the wings in the draft (except Evan Turner, I guess). He's 6'9" with a 6'11" wingspan, and has outstanding athleticism. He can play reasonably good defense and is an excellent jump shooter. With his athleticism, he could become an exceptionally versatile player, able to crash the boards, shoot from range, drive to the bucket, and defend against three positions. He's great in space and can finish in transition.

George is a late bloomer and a raw talent, and plenty of scouts question his commitment to the game. But if he can go to a franchise that has a coaching staff that can develop him and a core of players that can bring him along, George could become a feature player for years to come.

Bio: Paul George is from Palmdale, CA, a high desert town north of Los Angeles. To his credit, he was a Clippers fan in his youth. He didn't play organized basketball until high school, preferring to play on the street rather than in the gym. He started playing for his high school team in his freshman year, and played for the varsity team his last three years. George was discovered by the Pump ‘N Run AAU team, where he played with future UCLA Bruins Jrue Holliday and Malcolm Lee. George's game really took off when he started playing with the AAU team, where he could work out with players of similar talent. He was recruited by some East Coast schools like Georgetown and Penn State, but George decided to stay close to home and play for Fresno State. He played for the Bulldogs for two seasons, where he played in a generally undisciplined and free-flowing offense.

Stats: George is a good rebounder for his position, grabbing 8.8 rebounds per forty minutes, pace adjusted (reb/40p). He vastly increased the number of shots he takes from his freshman to sophomore year. That increase didn't affect his two point field goal percentage, but caused his three point field goal percentage from an otherworldly 45% to a more reasonable 35%. He shoots a lot of threes that are either in transition or early in the shot clock, and he'll need to work on his shot selection in the NBA to become more efficient. He shot 90% from the line his sophomore year, which is nearly unheard of for a 6'9" college player. Although he's great at shooting free throws, he doesn't get to the line very much (0.36 FTA/FGA).

George is not a particularly good passer, and tends to be far too cavalier with the ball, losing possession at an alarming rate (3.9 TO/40p). In fact, George had more turnovers than assists in his sophomore season. Playing for a poor Fresno State team, George was a focal point of the offense, using an impressive 27.7% of possessions and taking 28.8% of the teams shots. If he could cut down on his turnovers and use better shot selection, George could be an exceptionally valuable and efficient scoring option on the offensive end relatively early in his NBA career.

Skills: George's stats generally take a back seat to his upside. He has really impressed at workouts, showing all-around ability. He has excellent ball-handling skills, can hit the NBA three, has a fantastic mid-range jumper, can finish near the hoop, and has shown potential on the defensive end. He has great strength and explosiveness, but he doesn't have fantastic post-up moves. His biggest problems come from a lack of in-game experience and discipline. If he can get on a team where a coaching staff can push him to fulfill his potential, he could be a frighteningly good player.

Overall: If the Hornets are willing to draft a prospect, then Paul George could become a fantastic pick. With Monty Williams's reputation for player development and guards that can distribute the ball well, George would be an excellent fit for the Hornets. Considering that he is such a fantastic player in transition, the Hornets would likely become much more willing to run the floor were they to draft George. And drafting George would signal the front office's willingness to focus on winning in 2013 at the expense of the next few seasons.