INDIANAPOLIS – Over the past few months as the NBA Playoffs progressed, there were plenty of positive things which were being attached to the Pacers’ third-year forward from Fresno State.
Leader, scorer, clutch-performer and even budding superstar. All were warranted for Paul George who came into his own as Indiana made it’s run to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals.
But Angelo Sharpless paid him perhaps the best compliment of June during his NBA Draft workout on a Saturday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“I idolize Paul George,” said Sharpless-a guard from Division II Elizabeth City State University-when asked about what his impression of the Pacers was.
Its quite a compliment paid to a player who is the same age but Sharpless was impressed with the NBA’s Most Improved Players style of play and demeanor on the court, which he saw plenty of during the seven games against the eventual champion Miami Heat. Couple that with George’s 2013 season and the guard was more than will to bump the forward to idol status.
“His will to play, his will to win, his athleticism,” said Sharpless when asked why he considers Paul George an idol. “I really feel like I can mirror that image and if I can come here for the Pacers, he can really teach me a lot.”
Overall the Pacers as a team gave a lesson on their style of basketball during the past season-especially during a competitive Eastern Conference Finals with the Heat. The team’s physical brand of basketball and defensive prowess made them a favorite among basketball purists as Indiana took the eventual NBA champions to the brink of elimination.
“I watched them in the playoffs, it was a tough series against the Heat,” said former St. Mary’s guard Matt Dellavedova of the Pacers. “(Paul) George is on the rise, (Roy) Hibbert, got (Danny) Granger coming back. So they are definitely a team on the rise. I’d be excited to play here.”
North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock may have a shot to, considering a few mock drafts have the Pacers taking him with the 23rd pick in Thursday draft. He like others pointed out the toughness of the Pacers in their series with Miami as a reason he might enjoy a future basketball stop in Indianapolis.
“If I land here it would be great. I love their style of play, how they use their wings, I love the coach that they have,” said Bullock of the Pacers. “They made a great run this year so wherever I land, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be in this position.”
Jeff Withey of Kansas believes the Pacers success could put a young player in better position to succeed. Unlike many teams in the NBA Indiana’s route to success was mostly off the development of young players and draft picks over the past five seasons, which could appeal to a player hoping for long-term stability.
“I’m very shocked and surprised how well they did. They’ve coached everybody up. Roy Hibbert has become an All-Star,” said Withey of the Pacers’ player development. “That’s has a lot to do with the coaches and being patient and working with guys. That’s something as a young player you look at and you get excited about.”
Some would even say it’s worth looking up to.