ESPN The Magazine’s third annual Analytics Issue – featuring NBA All-Star Paul George on the cover – hits newsstands Friday. When asked why George was the athlete selected for the cover story senior editor, Ty Wenger, and writer Pablo Torre shared the following:
Wenger: George is someone we’ve been working with for more than year, in an effort to get him into the magazine. The reason we thought he was so great for the Analytics Issue, though, stems from the fact he’s is a guy who, in the past, we did not actually have the metrics for the mathematical language, if you will – to define how truly great he is. Thus, he’s a perfect cover subject for the issue. He is literally a poster boy for how modern Analytics allow us to appreciate a far more subtle version of greatness, one that goes beyond just points and rebounds and assists and steals. Back in the day, George would have been considered a very good player. A Scottie Pippen, if you would. Now, we know better.
Torre: Paul George is becoming a superstar, out of essentially nowhere, at a time when we can finally begin to contextualize all of the things an NBA player can do to impact a game. How well he defends specific plays. How much he runs over the course of a game. How he has varied his offensive skill set. The thing that’s special about George is that he is not just an elite scorer or defender: He is an all-court, two-way player who doubles as the key to arguably the best team in the NBA right now. (And that team, according to certain metrics, is the best defensive team any of us can remember.)