Though he kept his cool for the most part, there was an air of frustration surrounding Paul George during the first half of the Clippers’ blowout win over the Golden State Warriors, as the All-Star was not given a single foul call despite five attempts at the rim.
When asked about his composure, George gave a defeated answer.
Whether this has been true throughout his career is debatable, but his free throw rate has no-doubt declined this season. George is averaging just .24 free throws per field goal attempt this season, which would rank as the second-lowest rate of his career if we exclude his six-game recovery season back in 2015. As a comparison, his teammate Kawhi Leonard is averaging .33 free throw attempts per field goal this year, and the league leader Joel Embiid is averaging an insane .63 free throw attempts per field goal attempt.
How much of this is disrespect from the referees versus George being less aggressive is an interesting question. Other than a standout MVP-caliber season in OKC, George has averaged about four shot attempts within 10 feet or less per game for his career. It’s hard to get a lot of calls if you aren’t constantly driving to the rim or posting up.
George’s play style might be costing him some calls. He’s a smooth operator, slithering between and around defenders in order to get to his spots. He also has a ton of size at the two-guard position, and as a result, smaller defenders tend to bounce off of him without so much as a flail from George.
Whether it’s LeBron James or even the stoic Leonard, every superstar is going to complain that they do not get enough foul calls. As it pertains to George, this trend will be worth revisiting in the postseason, when every call is scrutinized and the referees carry the power to decide a series.