As detailed here, the biggest part of a potential return to the top of the Eastern Conference for the Indiana Pacers is Paul George. He returns full-time to the lineup after missing most of last season with the gruesome leg injury from the previous summer. Over the offseason, the Pacers front office and coaching staff declared that Indiana plans to play Paul George at the power forward position this season, citing a lack of quality big men as the reason.
There are both positives and negatives in this situation. On the offensive side, George can get buckets at will. In fact, he has looked almost bored tearing up defenses during the preseason. Against power forwards, George is able to get his shot off with ease, and is also fast enough to get the first step and blow by his defender. So far, Paul George’s offensive production has made the Pacers staff look great. The Pacers are downright deadly when Paul George has the opportunities to take on bigger, slower power forwards.
However, on the other end of the ball, Paul George has struggled. The first matchup proved what everybody was expecting. Paul George has always been a solid rebounder when he sneaks in from the wing, but in the post, or paint, he is easily out-muscled by larger players. He just can’t hang with power forwards defensively. They’re too big and too strong. This poses a lesser issue against some lower-level starters. However, against the top teams in the league, it puts the Pacers at a distinctive disadvantage. Paul George doesn’t have the strength nor the size to consistently defend power forwards.
Looking at both sides of the idea, you can see why it’s a tossup. There are advantages and disadvantages to the plan of playing small. It really comes down to the way Frank Vogel can work the lineup. It’s possible, while very tricky, to work switches on defense so Paul George isn’t required to put forth so much effort on the defensive end. Things get interesting when opponents are able to run the floor and Pacers players get lost in the shuffle to find their matchup. Paul George will get his points on offense, it’s up to Vogel to work with him on the defensive end.