Paul George of the Indiana Pacers practices with the team. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel is confident that wingman Paul George, already one of the NBA's best defenders at his position, can someday win the league's Defensive Player of the Year award.
"I think every voter has got to be alert to him and be watching him this season, because I think he's the best wing defender in the game," Vogel said of the 23-year-old George, who was named to the All-NBA Third Team last season after averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
"He's a major reason why we led the league in most defensive categories last year," the coach added.
George, for his part, readily accepted the challenge.
"It's one of my goals. When it's all said and done and I'm hanging up my sneakers, if not having one, I want to have a couple of Defensive Player of the Year (awards)," he said. "I just feel like I have the capability of guarding guys."
When asked who is the toughest player to defend, George refused to name one specific player.
"I mean, there's a lot of tough match-ups," said George. "But there's not a lot of match-ups where I feel like they have an edge on me, but there's a lot of guys that I have to be dialed in to."
George is willing to take on the task of defending former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, who finally made his return to action last week after sitting out over a year while recovering from an ACL injury.
"If I get drawn that assignment to guard Derrick Rose, I'll be all for it. But I know George (Hill) is gonna do a great job, so there might not even be a point where I have to guard Derrick, but if I get that assignment, I'm all for it," he said.
Vogel, George and the rest of the Pacers are in Manila for the NBA Global Games. They will play the Houston Rockets in the first-ever pre-season game to be held in the Philippines on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.