Beyond The Mic: CP3 Is Still The Standard At PG
Chris Paul proved in Game 4 that he’s still the best pure point guard in the league.
Derrick Rose will be the deserving MVP of the regular season. Rajon Rondo will average more triple-doubles than Paul. Russell Westbrook has more pure speed. Deron Williams has better size.
None of them have done what Chris Paul did on Easter Sunday. His triple-double of 27 points, 15 assists, and 13 rebounds don't even begin to tell the story.
Perhaps I’m caught up in the aftermath of the historic performance. I admit I was worried about Chris Paul’s surgically repaired knee a number of times during the regular season. Chris played the worst ball of his career during a three game stretch in late February and early March, leading many to question his health. Yet, despite coming back from knee surgery, he still led the league in steals while finishing fourth in assists. The lack of national coverage (only two games on ESPN, no network TV, no TNT appearances), coupled with playing in a small NBA market, led many NBA pundits to forget about Chris Paul. Rose and Westbrook were the new “flavors of the season” at the PG position, and Rondo plays for the heavily covered Boston Celtics. Many forgot who the best pure point guard in the league was. Chris Paul reminded us all last night. Let’s examine further.
Paul doesn’t have nearly the amount of talent that Rose has in Chicago. Westbrook plays with the two-time NBA scoring champion. Rondo plays with three future hall of famers. Paul lost his teammate of 6 years and the team’s leading scorer in David West last month (torn ACL). He’s not surrounded by great talent. No disrespect to Ariza, Landry, Okafor, Belinelli, and the rest of the Hornets, but no one on the roster can compare to some of the talent the other top PGs have at their disposal.
Aaron Gray and Emeka Okafor are the only two players (other than Paul) on the Hornet playoff roster that were with the team a year ago. Okafor played his first season in NOLA last season, while Gray was acquired before the trade deadline. Let’s not forget that Chris missed 37 games last year. Paul doesn’t have the luxury of years of chemistry with his current teammates.
He’s playing on a team owned by the league. He’s coming off a serious injury. He’s facing virtual double-teams every time he steps on the floor. He’s playing under a first year head coach.
For all these reasons, Paul’s performance (27 pts, 15 ast, 13 reb, 2 stl) in Game 4 is that much more marvelous. Paul became the first player to score at least 25 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds in a game since Oscar Robertson did it in 1964. Let’s not forget he did this against the two-time defending NBA champions. An NBA player’s greatness will ultimately be determined by how they play when the lights are the brightest. CP3 is the only player in history to average 20 plus points and 10 plus assists in the postseason. In 21 playoff games, Paul has averaged 25.5 and 11.5.
“Chris Paul gave one of the better performances (ever) in the playoffs,” explained Monty Williams after Game 4. “He scored. He dished it out. He rebounded. He made tough, tenacious plays. A lot of times that ball goes up and the rebound is a 50/50 ball, and a 6 footer (Paul) goes up and gets it. It just describes his heart.”
Beyond his Easter performance, Chris always allows teammates to play instead of constantly making the all the plays himself. At times, he’s still going to create for himself and create for his teammates, whether it’s in transition or late in the shot clock. But he has never tried to do it all himself. Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose are “make a play yourself” guys. Chris let’s his teammates play. And his teammates do not consist of future Hall of Famers like Rondo. He scores more points when he has too. He shoots threes when he has too. He becomes a “make a play yourself” guy when he has too. Point being, Paul does it all at his position. He is the epitome of what a true point guard should be. Last night, he reminded the world.