Chris Paul, Point ‘God’ No More but Still Damn Good


Despite averaging a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists a game, Clippers’ Chris Paul is beginning to realize that the crowd discussing NBA’s finest point guards is tough.

As in the competition is extensive.

Stephen Curry of Golden State has played like a league MVP this season and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook is in the midst of an incredible stretch, complete with a historic streak of consecutive games with at least 45 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Not to mention the guards in the Eastern conference who have earned recognition with their play this year.

Kyrie Irving has averaged 21.7 points in 58 games this year while trying to fend off Damian Lillard for the last spot in the NBA’s top-10 in scoring. Meanwhile, John Wall from the Wizards and his inhuman athletic ability are emerging as legitimate threats to contend for the crown sooner than most anticipated.

While calling a Clippers game last month, ESPN’s play by play man Mike Breen thought out loud, essentially asking: are we allowing the exceptional production from players like Curry and Westbrook to take Paul—an 8x All Star—for granted?

Are we?

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Golden State Warriors: Buy or sell Chris Paul being a day 1 starter
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  • While Paul’s reign as the unquestioned best point guard in the NBA may be over, he is undeserving of the lack of credit he is receiving this season—looking at Charles Barkley in particular, who stated that Chris Paul “doesn’t deserve” to be an All-Star back in January when voting was at its peak.

    When leading scorer Blake Griffin went down with a right elbow injury early in February, Paul didn’t bat an eye.

    Instead, Paul accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion. His 22.5 points and 12.5 assists in Griffin’s absence of 11 games kept the Clippers firmly in the middle of the pack in a battle for playoff berths in the Western conference. Paul has managed this with a team–who already suffers from lack of depth–that is catching the injury bug at the wrong time as both Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes joined Griffin on the sidelines with injuries when Los Angeles took on Portland last night.

    The LA Times reported Thursday morning that Griffin could return to action as soon as this Sunday when the Clippers are slated to take on the Golden State Warriors in a premier game with plenty of playoff implications.

    This is good news for Paul, as he is arguably even more effective when his fellow All-Star teammate joins him. The same can’t be said about the others. It’s time to stop beating around the bush: Russell Westbrook plays astronomically better without Kevin Durant, and while it appears Irving and LeBron James are starting to figure each other out, the Cavs’ offense often dangerously relies on one-man isolations rather than ball movement. It is the job of the point guard, often referred to as a “floor general,” to run their respective offense to the fullest, which sometimes translates into lesser scoring opportunities—an aspect that Paul has embraced with his supporting cast led by Griffin.

    Listed generously at 6’0”, Paul’s height leaves more to be desired. However, that doesn’t stop him from playing tremendous defense.

    Bruce Bowen, defensive connoisseur turned ESPN analyst, was asked which point guard is best equipped to defend Westbrook in the midst of a stretch where he’s seemed offensively invincible. Bowen knows a thing or two about defense, so his non-hesitant answer of “CP3,” shined light on this unappreciated part of Paul’s game. This season, the intensity Paul applies to his defense has resulted in a quality defensive rating of 103.7 and 1.8 steals—just another stellar season for the 6x All-NBA defensive team representative.

    Chris Paul is a once in a lifetime player, and although he isn’t going anywhere soon, he will be 30 years old in May. The arrival to the scene of elite point guards by guys like Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving have been great for the game of basketball, as they have been exciting to watch to say the least. That being said, it’s crucial to remember the consistency, intensity, and passion that Paul brings to the floor each and every night.

    The classic saying, “you never know what you had until it’s gone” usually applies to failed romances, but fits perfectly in a season where Paul has been drastically overlooked. Paul certainly still has plenty left in his tank, but fans and analysts of the game need to enjoy him while he’s here.

    Because he won’t be forever.

    Next: Good News! Blake Griffin likely to return next week