By Daniel O’Boyle
It’s an oft-repeated fact that to succeed in the NBA you need stars who will perform in the postseason.
But which NBA star has been the most important to their team when it counts?
According to on/off stats, it’s not LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Steph Curry. Nor is it Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard or James Harden.
It’s Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George. And by quite some distance.
George is certainly a a top player in the NBA, and he is known for his ability to step up his game in the postseason, but the extent to which the Pacers have relied on the former Fresno State product in the playoffs may surprise you.
Among players with 2000 playoff minutes played, George leads all players in net on/off rating, with a rating of 19.0. That means that the Pacers are better off by 19 points per 100 possessions when George is on the court compared to when he sits on the bench. That stat is driven mostly by his astonishing defensive on/off rating of 15.4 — the Pacers’ opponents score 15.4 less points per game when they have to face Paul George compared to facing lineups without him. Yet with an offensive on/off rating of 3.6, George helps his team score too, as shown by his career total of 18.4 playoff points per game.
In second place is Warriors power forward Draymond Green, who has proven invaluable to the most successful team of recent years, yet with a net rating of 14.6, he still sits far behind George. In third is point guard George Hill, formerly of the Pacers, which perhaps shows that a lack of depth in Indiana is behind George’s on/off stats.
With the playoffs approaching and the Pacers currently 7th in the Eastern Conference, history suggests Paul George will again be the key to how the team performs. Though if the Pacers can find a way to perform with George off the court, they may become a dark horse candidate to make a deep playoff run.
See the graphic on datawrapper.