The start of the NBA’s postseason being pushed back from April to August could end up working in the Los Angeles Clippers’ favor in a major way. Paul George, who was bothered by shoulder issues that hampered him throughout the regular season, likely wouldn’t have been at 100 percent had the playoffs began a few months ago. Thanks to the extra time for rehab and recovery afforded by the suspension of the season, George has healed and says he feels better now in Orlando than he did at any other point during the season.
“I had some insecurities to start the season off,” said George, who underwent surgery on both shoulders last offseason, and missed the first 11 games of the season as a result. “I had insecurities throughout the season just because I wasn’t all the way 100. Shoulder didn’t feel back to 100. Everything was kind of waiting and hoping, believing in the doctors that everything they were telling me was going to come into this moment now where I feel great, no shoulder issues.
“The whole season, all the way up until maybe a month or two ago, I had to always do shoulder rehab stuff, warming the shoulder up. Just so much went into stuff I had to do before I actually took a foot on the floor. Now I feel great again. I feel great going on the court, shooting, doing regular things. Just confident in that, feeling back to myself again.”
George wasn’t the only member of the Clippers who benefited from the time off, as the team dealt with a plethora of injury issues throughout the season. Marcus Morris, Landry Shamet, Reggie Jackson and Kawhi Leonard all missed time with various injuries, and now all of them are feeling more rested and refreshed.
“For this team, man, I think our aspirations, again, this time off has given us what we needed,” George said. “We had some guys that was banged up, nagging injuries. The more time gave us more time for us to aid those injuries and to get back to 100.”
Not only did the break benefit the Clippers physically, but George says it also helped the team’s overall chemistry and communication.
“I felt our relationships within the team grew even more because everyone was contacting each other. Everybody was staying in touch, making sure we was pushing each other to stay ready,” George said. “I think our communication, I think our chemistry has grown a lot. So, you know, I think because of that, because of the halt in the season, it really benefited for us.”
In the 42 games with the Clippers this season, George averaged 21.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 39 percent from long range. That George was able to put up those numbers while dealing with lingering shoulder soreness is pretty impressive. The fact he now feels fully healthy for the Clippers’ playoff push could spell trouble for the rest of the league.