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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Paul George for MVP? The numbers say yes

By Sunny Saini, ESPN Stats & Info

Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesPaul George has established himself as an MVP candidate.
Is Paul George a legitimate contender for MVP?

After the Pacers' victory over the Heat on Tuesday, led by George -– who is averaging nearly 25 points for the 19-3 Pacers –- it seems appropriate now to make the argument for George over LeBron James and other top candidates.

Valuable asset
George is having the best season of his career and plays for the team with the best record in the NBA. With George on the court, the Pacers score 17 more points per 100 possessions and are 25 points better overall per 100 possessions than they are with George on the bench.

Let's compare George's value to the Pacers with the other top early-season candidates:

• The Miami Heat are actually 10 points per 100 possessions worse with LeBron on the court.

• The Oklahoma City Thunder are only two points per 100 possessions better with Kevin Durant on the court.

• The Los Angeles Clippers are three points per 100 possessions better with Chris Paul on the court.

• The Houston Rockets are three points per 100 possessions better with James Harden on the court.

George scores 25 percent of the Pacers' points and leads the NBA in defensive win shares for the second straight season. He is tied for second with Durant with 4.4 win shares overall, behind LeBron's 4.5. Win shares are an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player on offense and defense.

Coming through in the clutch
George has been dominant in the fourth quarter all season, which was evident when he scored 17 of his career-high 43 points against the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter on Dec. 2.

George leads the NBA in fourth-quarter plus-minus and offensive rating (minimum 150 minutes played).

In the fourth quarter, the Pacers are 31 points better per 100 possessions with George on the court, including 20 points better per 100 possessions on the offensive end.

The NBA MVP award has been given to the player on a team that finished with the best record 58 percent of the time since 1990 and in four of the past five seasons. If George continues to lead the Pacers to a No. 1 seed, he could become the first Pacers player to win the NBA MVP award.