We’ve all been there before. We look into the mirror and think Wow, you have really got to change something. It’s humiliating to think about how we used to zip up and down the court or field as kids and now, we’re just slow, body-aching adults complaining about what would’ve happened if that one AAU coach gave you more playing time....unless you’re Chris Paul.
By this point in his lengthy career, Paul’s reputation has transformed from whiny snitch that memorizes the rulebook to the letter to an elder statesman that can single-handedly reverse the culture and fortunes of a dying organization.
Exhibit A, last season, Paul was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder. What was supposed to be a mediocre season at best for OKC, Paul ignited the organization all the way to the No. 5 seed in the bubble playoffs before getting bounced out by the same Rockets in SEVEN games.
No other player would have pushed James Harden and Russell Westbrook (side note: we’re going to see images of Russ in a Houston uniform and think ‘that’s gotta be fake) both physically and mentally in only the first round.
Exhibit B, flash forward to this season, CP3 has catapulted the Phoenix Suns, a team with some promise but no postseason experience, to a legitimate championship contender and that’s only been more evident in the postseason.
When Phoenix has needed Chris Paul most, he has shown out. Let’s just look at the counting numbers first (my personal favorite type of numbers). Over the entire sweep of the Denver Nuggets in the second round, Paul racked up 41 assists and only 6 (!!!) turnovers. In the closeout Game 4, the Point God put up a gaudy 37 points....
With no 3-pointers taken. WHAT?!
According to ESPN’s Stats & Info, in the fourth quarter, Paul was 84% from the field in the WHOLE series.
How is that even possible? In an era where analytics departments have larger voices than ever within the organization, Paul has thrown the stats book out the window and has done things this way, which makes this Cinderella run with the Suns all the more bittersweet.
Today’s youth has grown up with more than five years of Steph Curry half court 3’s, Dame Lillard stepback game-winners and now, Luka Doncic flashy passes and Trae Young floaters.
Thus, the true playmaking point guard is endangered, if not already dead and who’s to blame this generation? Who goes out to their driveway to practice running sets and making fadeaway mid range jump shots?
But, that doesn’t mean we should underestimate Paul’s greatness. Paul has averaged over seven assists per game in EVERY SEASON of his career. To put that into perspective, Steph Curry has only done that twice over his career.
Before you start firing those Twitter fingers away, yes, they’re two completely different point guards, but my point is that Paul’s team-first approach and outrageous offensive numbers is a combination that is becoming rarer in today’s NBA dominated by 3-point flamethrowers at the point guard spot.
Now, ESPN’s Malika Andrews confirmed reports that Paul will enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which will only reveal Paul’s significance to this team even more.