The Los Angeles Clippers haven't yet tasted championship success since acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019, but it's fair to say that they're moving in the right direction. During the 2020-21 NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers made their first Western Conference Finals appearance in their franchise's history and were two games away from being in the Finals.
A key factor in the Los Angeles Clippers being able to get there was the play of Paul George, who elevated his game after Kawhi Leonard went down with an ACL injury. There's no question that Paul George showed his status as one of the league's best players and showed that he still has the ability to be a No. 1 option.
Paul George quieted many of his haters with his most recent playoff run. There's no doubt that many have slammed George for being inconsistent in the playoffs in the past, and the hate definitely blinded some to just how good Paul George actually is.
It seems as though Paul George is paying the haters no mind though, as the Clippers head into the 2021-22 season. When speaking to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times Paul George claimed that he doesn't "need validation" and doesn't care about the outside noise.
I’ve done a good job of that in my career up to that point of not allowing outside noise to affect me, so that’s really where the page turned. The corner turned for me was, I don’t care what anyone else has to say. Like, 90% of the people who are critiquing me can’t do what I do. It’s just funny that someone can call someone else out of what they do, what their profession is, and people buy into that.
It’s just an approach where I don’t give a F. I don’t give a s---. That’s just how I attack the court now. Like I said, I don’t need validation. I’m my worst critic, and that’s the only thing that matters — the only thing that matters to me.
It will be up to Paul George to be the No. 1 for the Los Angeles Clippers until Kawhi Leonard returns from his injury. He has shown that he can do it in the playoffs. If the Clippers do well in the Western Conference, perhaps Paul George could even be in the 2021-22 MVP conversation.
We'll see just how good the Clippers are soon enough, and there's certainly a heavy burden on Paul George going into 2021-22. However, it seems as though Paul George is in a good state of mind, and perhaps we'll see the best version of him this season.