Last offseason, the LA Clippers went from a fringe playoff team to a contender. With the acquisition of the reigning finals MVP and ensuing trade of Paul George, many saw the team as the favorite to win it all. Things seemed fine with a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets and a large lead in game five. Then, the team blew the game and three more in a disastrous finish that cost Doc Rivers his job. With Rivers out, George spoke about his former coach using a logic that was quickly debunked.
Paul George on the Clippers
George was supposed to be the perfect complement to Kawhi Leonard. After all, he was an MVP candidate the previous season who managed to do so next to Russell Westbrook. He could score at will, shoot with the best of them, and was one of the league’s best defenders. With a deeper roster than the prior year, however, George knew he’d have to take a step back. In many ways, it worked.
Despite a six-point dropoff in his scoring from the previous season, George looked great next to Leonard, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and the rest of his teammates. The smaller role on a deeper team meant that he did not have to take over games to win. However, on the flip side of that coin, it also meant that losses where George struggled became louder.
This rang especially true in the playoffs when his scoring and shooting declined. George wasn’t just struggling in the playoffs; he was downright bad. The Clippers blew their 3-1 lead against the Nuggets and entered the offseason with a chip on their shoulder. Now, Rivers is gone with Harrell and other teammates. With this in mind, George sounded off about his coach.
George sounds off
Not one to blame himself, George believed the struggles of last season were not his fault, but the fault of poor coaching, details CBS Sports. While George can be a spot-up shooter, he thought his role inside the offense didn’t let him use his strengths on isolation and pick and roll to be the superstar he’s proven he can be. He discussed this with retired NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on their podcast.
“The way I was being used, I felt Doc was trying to play me as like a Ray Allen or like a JJ Redick, all pin-downs. I can do it, but that ain’t my game,” George said. “I need some flow, I need some mixes of pick-and-rolls, I need some post-ups, just different touches, you know what I mean? That last season was just hard overall.”
However, after people heard George’s excuses, people on Twitter were quick to point out that his role in the Clippers wasn’t all that different from his previous roles.
The fallacy in logic
NBA analyst Kevin O’Connor took issue with George’s claims that he was misused. According to Synergy analytics, George was involved in more pick-and-roll plays than ever before in his career. While This doesn’t absolve Rivers, it shows that George’s reasoning behind his struggles doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on paper.
“Hey, listen, I enjoyed coaching him,” Rivers told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “So not a lot to say there. Ty Lue was sitting right next to me. So he better hope it’s not adjustments. It ain’t going to be much different… Listen, we lost the game, and I think everybody needs to take ownership. [Me] obviously. We can always do better. Players can play better. So as far as I’m concerned, I’ll leave it there.”
Rivers, who is now the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, allowed George to prove he was the problem by challenging him to do better next year. George might have been a victim of some questionable coaching, but that doesn’t absolve him from his struggles. Now, rather than speaking and making excuses, it’s time for him to prove the doubters wrong with his game. Otherwise, it’s all talk.