Chris Paul’s Numbers Are Down
Chris Paul is playing a career low in minutes this season, averaing 34.4 a game. Hornets head coach Monty Williams wanted to cut back Paul’s career average of 37.1 minutes game to keep Paul from burning out late in the year, and prevent a setback to his surgically repaired knee. Minutes aren’t the only stat that’s taken a hit on Paul’s stat sheet.
The games in which Chris Paul figuratively has donned the cape and been “CP3” so far this season haven’t been regular enough for us to make assumptions. The occasions when he has looked like the best point guard on the planet, dressing down defenders on the break, abusing them on pick-and-rolls, nightly chasing triple-doubles and periodically flirting with quadruple-doubles, have been fewer than anyone who has watched him play is accustomed to.
Yes, he has spoiled us. We’ve witnessed him perform his craft at its highest level and simply don’t want to get accustomed to watching anything less.
But it’s no stretch to note that, indeed, we are seeing a little less than what we know is the best.
“Just about every night they’re either trapping, or they’ve got two or three people in the lane trying to cut me off,” Paul said. “I try to involve my teammates. I take what the defense gives me. If they’re trapping me, if three people are on me, that means somebody’s open, if two people are on me that means somebody’s open. I try to find my teammates as often as possible.
“I never force it. It’s what the defense gives you. You can’t force it, not as a point guard.”
And yet, Paul has been such a brilliant caretaker, it wouldn’t rankle if he did force it from time to time, especially when the New Orleans Hornets are in the kind of spiral they just interrupted. New Orleans had lost nine of its previous 12 games, and three in a row, before beating Sacramento on Wednesday.
That’s not saying Paul has been anywhere near awful. He’s averaging 16.2 points and 9.9 assists, standout numbers by most measures.
But he measures differently than that.
John DeShazier of the Times Picayune is absolutely right. Watching Paul play this season only reinforces how good he has been for the Hornets. It’s not enough for Paul to just be good, he has to consistenly be great for New Orleans to consistently win. Chris Paul has spoiled us with his incredible play over the years. He’ll have to continue to spoil us if the Hornets want to make any kind of a playoff run.