Before Thursday night, Paul George had not played a game of basketball since last spring.
The Los Angeles Clippers forward underwent multiple offseason shoulder surgeries and was held out of action in training camp, preseason and the first 11 games of the regular season before finally making his debut against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday evening.
“Terrible” even though he poured in 33 points, nine rebounds and four assists in just 24 minutes while shooting 10-of-17 from the floor, 3-of-5 from 3-point range and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
So, basically, George had an outing that most NBA players could only dream of having, and yet, he called it “terrible.”
Remember: this was George’s first game back from a pretty serious rehabilitation process. Dual shoulder surgeries are no joke, and he had yet to see any game action as a Clipper until this meeting with the Pelicans.
If anything, this performance by George was scary for the rest of the league, as it shows that he hasn’t skipped a beat since last season and that when he and Leonard are on the floor together, it is going to be a major problem.
Obviously, George is a professional athlete, and an All-Star, at that, so naturally, he is going to have high standards for himself. But this man just scored 33 points in 24 minutes on a true shooting percentage of 77.1 percent.
In his first game back from a couple of offseason surgeries, no less.
That is insane.
To be fair, George may have been in a somber mood because Los Angeles lost the game, and the fact that it came against a clearly inferior team in New Orleans certainly didn’t help matters.
But this was actually a very positive sign for George and the Clippers moving forward.
There were some legitimate questions surrounding George coming into the season and how his shot would look early on. Plus, people wondered if he would be somewhat tentative going to the basket because of his surgically repaired shoulders.
As a response, he went out and shot 58.8 percent from the field and got to the charity stripe 10 times.
I think it’s safe to say that George has passed his first test, even if the game did not end in a W.
Yes, the Clippers are only 7-5, but it’s still just November. Leonard and George haven’t even been on the floor together yet, so those of you (namely Lakers fans) who are celebrating LA’s early woes should probably slow your roll.
This Clippers club was never going to be judged for what it does during the regular season, anyway. It’s all about May and June for the Clips, and they’ll probably end up reeling off a whole bunch of victories some point soon regardless.
George may have not been too happy with his season debut, but he almost surely put the rest of the league on notice with his performance.