Chris Paul is far and away the best guard in the NBA today. Throughout the years, there has been constant debate about who is really the Point God–as some like to call it–but before Paul’s knee injury- there was really no question about who it was.
After watching some film and reviewing the numbers, I’ve decided that it was really and truly Chris Paul. He’s the best point guard we’ve seen since John Stockton and arguably the absolute best since Magic Johnson left the game after his first retirement. He’s accomplished something that no other point guard has ever been able to do–Paul once had a 30 PER. That was during the year that LeBron James won the MVP and the Lakers won the title.
Paul ended up having a disappointing first round loss in the playoffs losing to the Denver Nuggets, but that didn’t make him any less dominant.
Now Paul is on the Los Angeles Clippers looking to get farther than he ever has in the post-season. Though he hasn’t quite produced like the old Paul from the 08-09 season, he’s still been able to put up monster numbers at an uber-efficient rate.
In his first season in 60 games, Chris Paul averaged 19.8 points per game, 9.1 assists per game, and 2.5 steals per game. His assist total was third in the NBA behind only Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash and his steals per game ranked number one in the league. Paul, this passed season, led the league in steals for the second consecutive time. He also led the league in steals for two consecutive years in 07-08 and 09-10.
Getting into the realm of advanced statistics, Paul was once of the most dominant players this season. He only trailed LeBron James with his Player Efficiency Rating mark of 27. Though PER isn’t the be all-end all and shouldn’t totally regulate where a player is ranked among his peers, it should be noted that a player who puts up a PER of over 25 is a very dominant one. That’s what Chris Paul was for the Clippers last season; night in and night out he dominated on an efficient pace.
If you exclude LeBron James from the conversation, you can make an argument that Chris Paul would have won the MVP last season. In my opinion, he dominated games for his team more than Kevin Durant did and didn’t get enough credit for it. Paul was a threat every time he touched the ball last year and did it in multiple ways–passing or scoring.
Paul also had an offensive rating of 126.1 as well. That means that per 100 possessions Paul scored 126.1 points for his team. That was second behind only Tyson Chandler, who had a record breaking season in field goal percentage last season. A large percentage of those points scored by Chandler were at the rim. Think about that 126.1 number for Chris Paul, who only takes 2.9 shots at the rim per game. That’s an amazingly high number for a guard who barely hits six feet in height.
Paul led the league in offensive win shares this season as well with 10.4. Those are the calculated number of wins a player contributes to his team due to his performance on offense. That’s not even the highest of his career, but it was the best in the league this past season. I think that speaks volumes about Chris Paul’s production.
Though all of these other things are great, what Chris Paul does better than anyone in the league really is hold on to the ball. Chris Paul keeps possessions alive for his team by not turning the ball over. He only averaged two turnovers per game last season and had a turnover ratio of only 7.3. That ratio is the percentage of plays for any given player that result in a turnover. That number ranks second among point guards where Lou Williams leads the pack with a ratio of only 5.9.
Given that low number with such a high number of possessions and minutes under his belt, I’d say that Paul is head and shoulders above everyone else at taking care of the ball. He didn’t average as many assists as I thought he would, but the fact that he kept the ball while creating so many scoring possessions for the Clippers last season was an amazing feat.
Chris Paul is indeed the Point God in the NBA. Sure, there’s your occasional conversation of who is playing better at that moment because everyone has lulls throughout the season. However, at the end of the day Paul is a great decision maker with the ball, a disruptive defender, an efficient scorer, and an amazing passer all rolled into one. That’s something that none of the other point guards in the NBA have going for them.
As far as breaking down his play on the floor goes, Paul is a genius at X’s and O’s. He always knows where all players on the floor are on the court at all times–as all great point guards have to be. The thing about Paul is that he puts up these numbers, but every play that he makes is not a safe one. I’ve pulled a few clips via Synergy Sports Technology to show you all what I mean.
In the video above Paul brings the ball up. He receives a screen from Deandre Jordan and uses it to get into the teeth of the Grizzly defense. Jordan rolls into Paul, though, as a result of bad spacing. This happens sometimes with the Clippers because of their lack of a shooting threat between the power forward and center positions. They all hang out around the rim which makes them less difficult to defend.
Continuing, after nearly turning the ball over, Paul regains possession after Griffin touches the ball. He gets it back and takes the ball directly into the paint. The defense is already on edge because Paul had gotten the penetration he wanted once before so now all eyes are on him. This leaves Foye open in the corner. As soon as Paul sees that he hits him with no hesitation. Easy two points for the Clippers.
In the next play the ball is inbounded as Paul is being denied position. Instead of going to the ball, Paul lets the ball circulate around to him. Griffin passes Paul the ball with his back to the basket from the top of the wing. From there, Paul faces up to take a look at the defense. He notices that Griffin’s defender, Tiago Splitter, has taken position to deny Paul of a baseline drive that he works so well off of. Instantly, Griffin sees this and begins his cut to the basket. Paul instantly hits him with a crisp pass and lets Blake do the rest of the work.
Out of the three plays sampled, the one above is my favorite. Here, Paul takes a screen from Deandre Jordan. Before Jordan rolls, Paul dribbles in front and sucks the defenses attention away. He already knows that Blake Griffin isn’t down the floor with the rest of the offense so he takes the attention of his defender, Boris Diaw.
By doing this, Paul has created the perfect lane of open space for Blake Griffin by effectively using his dribble and a screen. Jordan occupied Tim Duncan by rolling to the rim and holding him down there. Paul sees Griffin coming back and gives him the ball as he cuts to the rim. He proceeds to score an easy bucket for the Clippers again.
These are only a few examples of how Chris Paul dominates the game. I had 22 clips that I could’ve included in this post but chose not to. Paul is an amazing guard, plain and simply. He’s the best in the league.