Following a division-clinching an important win over Tennessee on Sunday, Reggie Wayne joined us to talk about another bounceback victory for the Colts.
Even though the Colts virtually assured themselves of the division crown, there are still major question marks with a couple of players, most notably fellow WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. DHB had an awful drop on a wide-open pass in Sunday's game, and we asked Reggie if the drops were fixable:
Trent Richardson, another struggling teammate, was relegated to backup duty behind Donald Brown. Although he only had five carries on Sunday, Reggie said that he's trying to work his way back up instead of pouting about his demotion:
Mike Silver of NFL.com reported last week that offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was "under pressure" for Indy's slow starts. You have to go back to the win over Denver in October - the last game that Reggie Wayne played - to find the last touchdown scored by the Colts in the first half. Reggie opened up about Pep, the offense feeling pressure, and curing the slow starts:
On a lighter note, Reggie showed up wearing a t-shirt of a cartoon T-Rex shooting missles out of its claws (Query tweeted the photo). Even though I watched a ridiculous amount of 1980s cartoons as a kid, I couldn't figure out what show the t-shirt was from. Someone informed him that it was from the short lived Dino Riders:
You can hear the full show here. Join us every Tuesday from 5-6p at George's Neighborhood Grill at 71st & Bindford to see Reggie in person!
Following a career-high 43 points in last night's loss in Portland, everyone is talking about Paul George today. He's played at an MVP level through the first month of the season, and even after last night's setback, the Pacers own the league's best record. The secret is out about Paul George, and it has been for awhile.
It all started about a year ago.
On December 1, 2012, George was held scoreless (0-7 FG, 0-5 3-pt FG) in a loss at Golden State which dropped the Pacers to 8-9.
He was in his third NBA season, and with Danny Granger’s surprise knee injury, Indiana was expecting the former 10th overall pick to step up to fill the void. He was coming off a tough series in the 2012 playoffs against the Heat where he was largely a non-factor, averaging just ten points and shooting 36% from the field in the six-game defeat. Hoping to start fresh following that poor showing, George was hit-and-miss in the first month of the 2012-13 season. He showed glimpses, like a 37-point effort against New Orleans during Thanksgiving week, but he missed 32 of his next 45 shots over the following four games, including the doughnut at Golden State. The heightened expectations had George pressing, and it showed. Exactly one year ago today, I remember broaching the topic on our show as to whether Paul George was ever going to be a franchise player, or if he was just another guy.
Again, that was just one year ago.
Mike Wells, then of the Indianapolis Star, reported that George went straight to the gym after the red-eye flight back from his zero-point effort in Oakland and went to work. Since that fateful night at the Oracle (fitting, no?) Arena, George has made a dizzying ascent from a youngster still learning his way to one of the NBA’s best all-around players.
George was 143 games into his NBA career when the Pacers’ plane landed early that morning in Indianapolis. His numbers at that point were middling - 10.5 ppg (43% FG), 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg – and he still looked every bit like the long-term project he was pegged to be by nearly all of the NBA Draftniks. Sure, the talent was undoubtedly there, but could he put it together?
The turnaround after Golden State was immediate. The Pacers finished their road-trip in nearby Chicago, and on December 4th, Paul George went off. He scored nearly half of their points (34) in an 80-76 win over the Bulls which evened Indiana’s record at 9-9. They haven’t been below .500 since. George averaged 25 points per game (51% shooting) in the six games immediately after his no-show at Golden State. Behind his surge, the Pacers won 9 of their next 12, and 14 of their next 19 overall. In the return game against the Warriors at the end of February (remember the overblown, so-called “brawl”?), George went for 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 108-97 win. It concluded a 24-12 stretch for the Pacers, who went on to earn the East’s #3 seed. PG made up for his 2012 struggles in last year’s postseason, averaging 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists to put the Pacers a game away from the NBA Finals. He also earned All-Defensive Team honors, and continues to be one of the best stoppers in the league.
George's numbers in the last year tell the story:
|GS & Before||144||9.5||43%||4.9||1.2||80-64|
It’s rare when we can pinpoint the exact moment that the switch flipped for a star player, but it all goes back to that night in Golden State for George, exactly one year ago. In early December of 2012, Paul George was a project, and the Pacers were mediocre. 366 days later, Paul George is elite, an MVP front-runner, and the Pacers are a legitimate title contender.
What a difference a year makes.