Paul George injury: Reactions, effect on NBA & USAB


I can’t express how much I was enjoying watching NBA stars duke it out on the hardwood during Team USA’s showcase in Las Vegas. It’s been too long since the NBA season ended, and I was loving the extra basketball… until Paul George got hurt, that is.

The video of the injury can be found all over the internet. I don’t need to go into explicit detail to explain what exactly happened, but basically, George’s leg buckled as he landed at the base of the stanchion after attempting to block a James Harden fast break. It was Kevin Ware all over again, but slightly less graphic.

Candace Buckner, the Pacers insider for Indianapolis Star, took to twitter to elaborate on the injury:

I’ll be surprised if George plays at all in the 2014-15 season. It’s going to be a long road back, but the NBA, the players, and the fans are ready to support George the entire way. So far, the outpouring of support has been tremendous.

It goes without saying, but George’s injury is a devastating blow for the NBA. George was on the brink of NBA superstardom, one of the top ten players in the league, and the best player on the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season.

It is too early to get into the exact logistics of how George’s injury will impact the Eastern Conference and NBA, as a whole. Yet, every time a major player sits out injured, the quality of the league goes down. Derrick Rose is the perfect example. The Bulls were at the top of the East when Rose went down two seasons ago. Since then, the Bulls have been fairly mediocre, middling the pack in a much weaker Eastern Conference. I expect a similar course for the Indiana Pacers next season without George.

The Pacers, who lost Lance Stephenson in free agency to Charlotte, now have to replace their two most productive players next season. The East is bad and will be bad, but a core of George Hill, David West, and Roy Hibbert isn’t going to win many games.

While the NBA season is still months away and we’ll have all that time to analyze what will happen with George and the Pacers, George’s injury directly affects Team USA in the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Spain.

George was thought to be a shoo-in on the team, possibly a starter, and definitely a major contributor for Team USA. Other than Anthony Davis, George was the only real solid, lock-down defender Coach K had at his disposal. Now, Coach K will likely look to Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, or DeMar DeRozan to replace George on the roster. Replacing George’s production, however, will have to be by committee because none of the possible replacements bring George’s size, defensive skill, and athleticism to the game.

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Originally, I think Coach K was planning on using George and Kevin Durant as a rotating 3-4 tandem, where either Durant or George could play the power forward (stretch forward) interchangeably. Now, Team USA and Coach K really have to decide how they want to play at the World Cup.

Prior to the injury, Team USA was already short in talent along the frontline. Coach K could try to make up for that by bringing Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried and Paul Millsap to Spain, and try to find a lineup that works on the fly. Or, Coach K could abandon the post and bring another point guard, so Damian Lillard or Kyrie Irving would each make the team. Or, he could add another wing player.

Quite reasonably, I could see a case for all three of those different scenarios, so I’m glad I’m not the one picking the team.

As unfortunate as it is, George’s injury may have cracked open the door for Lillard to make the team. Right now, Lillard seems to be in a battle with Irving for a roster spot. Though, there is now a possibility Coach K could add a fourth point guard, depending on which direction he and Jerry Colangelo decide to go. There are a number of viable possibilities, and Lillard could definitely be the next guy in line, if he was on the outs before the scrimmage today.

If there is any takeaway from today, it is another reminder that injuries can happen to anyone at any time. We should stop taking that for granted and appreciate the opportunities we have to see the best players in the world on a consistent basis.

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