LA Clippers: Chris Paul has to be considered for NBA MVP

Nov 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Clippers defeated the Kings 121-115. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Clippers defeated the Kings 121-115. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Clippers’ star Chris Paul is putting together more excellent performances and making history, which continues to strengthen his case in the early NBA MVP race.

How many NBA players can you name that have scored 20 points and dished out 20 assists in a game, and turned the ball over a total of zero times? Chris Paul is the first and only player to ever grace a stat line with such ridiculous numbers… and he did so in only 29 minutes during the LA Clippers‘ 133-105 win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

(For the record: Rickey Green only scored nine points in that 1984 game).

The Clippers’ “Point God” is playing like a legitimate MVP candidate this season (bar a few blips in the team’s recent down spell), and here are the numbers to prove it:

  • 17.8 points, 9.4 assists (4th in NBA), 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 steals (leads NBA) per game
  • 28.16 PER (4th in NBA)
  • 3.25 Defensive Real Plus/Minus (5th in NBA)
  • 6.26 Offensive Real Plus/Minus (4th in NBA)
  • 5.61 Win Shares (leads NBA)
  • 9.51 Real Plus/Minus (leads NBA, and 2nd place Jimmy Butler is well behind at 6.9)

For further comparison of just how insane those numbers are, Chris Paul is the only backcourt player in the top 40 of Defensive Real Plus/Minus and is playing the lowest minutes of anyone inside the top 30 of both Win Shares as well as overall Real Plus/Minus, and it’s not even close.

Paul as always, is scoring in a super efficient manner. He’s shooting 46.2 percent from the field, a career-high 40.6 percent from three and 89.5 percent from the free throw line, which gives him a career high True Shooting Percentage of 61.2 (for comparison, Stephen Curry is at 65.1 on the season).

At 31 years old, Chris Paul is maturing like a fine wine. He’s still one of (if not the very best) leaders in the entire sport, and doesn’t seem to be slowing up any time soon.

As history has shown, the team record at the end of the season will be where the MVP award is won or lost. Even with the popular frontrunner Russell Westbrook averaging a 31.1-point, 11-assist, 10.9-rebound triple-double — that’s right, averaging a triple-double — the odds are stacked against him unless the Thunder can work their way to the 1st or 2nd seed in the Western Conference.

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Similarly, with the Clippers currently tied at 18-7 with the Houston Rockets for the 3rd seed, Chris Paul’s early MVP race slows with every loss the team takes. Of course, we’ve still got pretty much three quarters of the season left for things to play out.

If L.A. can work their way back up to the 1st or 2nd seed in the West (the latter is more likely), these are a few possible factors that could go in favor of Paul’s MVP chances:

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  1. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant split votes, essentially taking each other out of the running.
  2. The Thunder finish 4th or lower in the conference, which seems fairly likely, almost guaranteeing Westbrook doesn’t win.
  3. The Rockets cool off, their 20th ranked defense hurts them somewhat, and they finish the season with a worse record than the Clippers, pushing James Harden further down the list.
  4. LeBron James takes a decent number of games off for rest, and Kyrie Irving finishes out the season as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ top scorer.
  5. The San Antonio Spurs go into cruise mode to stay fresh for the playoffs and don’t have enough buzz for Kawhi Leonard to earn enough votes.

This may be Chris Paul’s best remaining chance at winning the award when you consider his age, his amazing track record and chance to draw votes from the career he’s had (sentimental votes to reward a player like Paul will come into play for some), and the chance the LA Clippers have at the 2nd seed before Paul and Blake Griffin have the option to test free agency next summer.

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One thing is for sure, though. If CP3 maintains this level of play for the rest of the season, and Griffin can stay 100 percent health-wise, the Clippers will be as formidable a team as you can find.