Ty Lawson accidentally says Chris Paul isn’t an elite point guard


Or maybe it wasn’t an accident. Regardless of intent, the comments were made by Ty Lawson, and the process of elimination tells us he doesn’t believe Chris Paul, a consensus top point guard, to be an “elite point guard” by his own logic.

Backing up, the comments derived from an interview between Lawson, who was traded to the Houston Rockets from Denver this summer after unpredictably wearing out his welcome, and Yahoo Sports scribe Adrian Wojnarowski. The interview consisted of many quotable moments, including commentary on his stint in rehab, some (what I believe to be) hot takes about ’14-15 MVP Stephen Curry, and the comment that brought us here, the qualifications of being an elite point guard in a league filled with many good ones:

"“I don’t think you’ve ever seen so many good point guards in one conference at one time in the league ever,” Lawson told Yahoo Sports. “But you’ve got to win. If you want to be an elite PG in this league, you’ve got to win. You’ve got to be in the conference finals, the NBA Finals. If you’re not winning, you’ll always be a second-tier, or third-tier point guard.”"

By Lawson’s logic, in the last five years the only elite point guards to exist are Tony Parker (SAS), Russell Westbrook (OKC), Mike Conley (MEM), Mario Chalmers (MIA), Jason Kidd (then of DAL), Derrick Rose (CHI), Rajon Rondo (then of BOS), George Hill (IND), and Jeff Teague (ATL). And again citing Lawson’s own logic, the non-elite point guards include fellows like Chris Paul (LAC), John Wall (WAS), and Lawson himself.

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  • Lawson isn’t alone in using this type of logic to decide who stands atop their position. For years, NBA fans have correlated success and results with how good a player is, with the peak of this conversation revolving around how many rings a player has won. Looking at the list of players elite by Lawson’s logic, it’s more than clear a number of those guys don’t belong in the conversation, including Teague, Hill, Chalmers, and with time being unkind to the players for varying reasons, Rose, Rondo, and Parker. Not being elite doesn’t strip away their success, but instead, the latter doesn’t automatically equate to the former while guys who are far superior on the court, which matters most when doling out tags such as elite.

    And in the inverse, Paul doesn’t necessarily need success to prove he’s “elite” — while we’re here, that elite word is very subjective and without direct meaning so the definition continues to float around without certainty. Comparing Paul’s on-court production to anyone other player of the same positions is enough to show he’s “elite”, and having done it consistently for nearly ten years backs up the sentiment. Paul has scored at an elite level — especially for his size; is one of the best point guard defenders ever; and he stands as one of the best playmakers in league history. Having success to couple with those attributes would thrust Paul into a greater conversation, one that features the Magic Johnson‘s and Oscar Robertson‘s of the world. Unfortunately, he hasn’t reached that plateau yet but it doesn’t take away from what’s been done on the floor.

    Hopefully Chris Paul comes across these same comments and takes offense. Because an angry Chris Paul is an entertaining Chris Paul and what more would we want than angry Chris Paul firing up against the Rockets four times this season knowing what Lawson, who isn’t the best defender in the world, believes he’s “second tier”.

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