Our last versus scenario pitted Andre Drummond against Anthony Davis. In that one, Dre had most of the advantages on the statistical side but given the freer range The Brow will have in NOLA in the coming year, XN Sports saw him as the victor of 2013-14.
This installment has less common ground between the two players (Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were drafted in different years, have very different roles on their team, and appear to have very different ceilings) but enough similarities persist to elicit a head-to-head.
Both are elongated forwards who can crash the boards, can operate on the wings in a variety of ways, have seen deep playoff success, and are shaping up to be potent two-way players. Even at a young age both have been touted as “LeBron stoppers,” which might be closer to becoming a reality as they age and mature. And the King does the opposite.
Let’s see exactly how appropriate the topic of comparison is; first, with the goods.
2010, 10th Overall
2011, 15th Overall
May 2, 1990
June 29, 1991
6-10 (allegedly); 210 Pounds
6-7; 225 Pounds
Los Angeles, CA
San Antonio Spurs
Match; both squads are going to be in the run for the No. 2 spot after Miami
Notice a trend on the shooting? Kawhi
George by a hair
Surprisingly Kawhi; thought George had this in the bag
George by a handswipe
Again, surprisingly Kawhi
Out of a possible 16 categories—we start counting at the per-36 clause—Make ‘Em Kawhi Leonard wins a commanding nine. With them tying in the block realm, George is left with six categories won: PPG, RPG, APG, PER, Defensive Rating, and Usage Percentage. It’s clear even without having to watch them play a game of basketball, that George has a bigger role on his team, which means he’s tagged with carrying a bigger load of the stats share, and, which naturally results in a drop of efficiency.
But sticking strictly to this table would be unfair. Though the Pacers were an excellent team, as evidenced by their trouncing of the Knicks and pushing the Heat to the brink, George was caught in a tough position. Without Danny Granger, and a suitable bench, a lot of the offensive responsibility fell on PG at times. If he didn’t have to deal with the added burden, he might have posted shooting percentages closer to those from 2011-12: 44.0 FG%, 38.5 3P%, and 55.5 TS%. Under that circumstance, George would have won a seventh category and could perhaps concentrate better on defense where he could have fouled less and stolen and blocked more.
Then you get into the issue of age.
PG is almost exactly a year older than Leonard. So, when trying to project the future for both, George gets an automatic advantage because he’s farther along his talent incline. That’s why he won the MIP and Leonard didn’t.
Though it isn’t an exact science, since they’re so close to age, you can take a look at both of their sophomore years for sake of comparison. (2011-12 for Paul George and 2012-13 for Kawhi Leonard).
Give or take a tad, they’re about even. So, Leonard could very well end up with an MIP-worthy year. Perhaps with less points and assists than George had, but more rebounds and a greater efficiency all around.
But ultimately George will have the better 2013-14 if simply because he’s further along the development route and has a bigger role cut out for him in the Indiana line. That might change as Leonard is given a bigger slab of responsibility this year by Pop but not enough to leapfrog PG—yet.