The statistics place Chris Paul among the absolute greats to ever play his position, but he is yet to experience their level of playoff success. How does he stack up against them given the gap between his stats and his résumé?
Paul is a four-time All-NBA first teamer and the best pure point guard in the league whose skills are well known to anyone reading this blog. He is a true floor general and orchestrator of his team’s offense. He is a maestro with the ball, one of the best distributors in recent league history and a multi-faceted scorer. He is also a relatively good defender – though not quite fully deserving of his six All-Defense nominations, as I recently laid out here.
617 games into his career, Paul is putting up averages of 18.6 points, 9.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals on 47.2% shooting. A true stat sheet filler, he already has 297 double-doubles to his name.
Historically, he is amongst elite statistical company. He is one of just five players to amass 11,000 points and 6,000 assists over his first nine seasons, and he currently ranks first all-time in PER among all guards – not a tell-all stat by any means but one that demonstrates his all-round statistical brilliance. Moreover, only five players have ever averaged 21 points and 11 assists on at least 48% shooting for a season. Only two have ever done it more than once: Paul and Magic Johnson.
Chris Paul, the greatest floor general in the league on offense, has been named to the All-Defensive first or second team six of the last seven years. Is he that good on that end of the ball?
As the years have gone on I have learned to take All-Defense votes with a considerable pinch of salt. The average media member with a vote is simply not informed enough to make a judgement, and players tend to get in based on reputations – some well-earned, some completely undeserved.
In Paul’s case, it is somewhat deserved.
His relative lack of height and explosive athletic ability limit his effectiveness, but for his size he is a generally good, feisty one-on-one defender when focused. Doc Rivers is able to trust to him in guarding opposing point guards one-on-one and even shift him on to shooting guards when the Clippers go small. He is an intelligent player with great anticipation and a generally clear awareness of his own positioning on the floor, making him an excellent off-ball defender.
The starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game were announced last week. As usual, the fans got it wrong: Kobe Bryant (6 games, 13.8 PPG) and Kyrie Irving (42.8% shooting, 16-29 record in the putrid Eastern Conference) have no business being in the starting lineups.
Tonight, the reserves will be announced. Who should be selected?
Let us ignore the East – with all due respect to the likes of Paul Millsap, Arron Afflalo and Kyle Lowry – and skip straight to the ultra-loaded and more meaningful West, where there are far more deserving candidates than there are available All-Star roster spots.
After much deliberation, here are the seven players – three frontcourt, two backcourt and two wild cards – who should join Kobe, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin on the squad: