One of the biggest problems critics and analysts have with Chris Paul’s career is that he hasn’t had much team success. The furthest he has been in the playoffs happened last year, as he found his Rockets matched up against the superteam Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, where they lost in 7 games.
He’s known around the league as one of the best undersized guards of all time, being an elite two-way player. He has incredible court vision, great shooting, and is more than capable of defending bigger opponents. Paul’s problem? Injuries.
In the last two years, CP3 has missed 45 games in the regular season. In the 2018 Western Conference Finals, the Houston Rockets surprisingly found themselves up 3-2 in the series against the defending champs. Unfortunately, Paul went down with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the rest of the series, as the Warriors came back and eventually won the NBA Championship.
In my opinion, Chris Paul is one of the most underrated players in the entire league. Paul has averaged 18.7 ppg, 9.8 apg and 2.3 spg over the course of his career, while racking up several accolades along the way. He’s a 9-time All-Star and the 2013 All-Star Game MVP. He’s made the All-NBA team 8 times, with 4 first team selections, and has made the All-Defensive team 9 times. He’s also led the league in assists 4 times, and has led the league in steals six times. He is also known around the league for having one of the highest basketball IQs of ALL-TIME.
Two of CP3’s best seasons are his 2007-08 season and his 2008-09 season, while he still played for the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans). He averaged 21.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 11.3 apg, and 2.7 spg in 38 minutes per game, leading the league in assists and steals both times. He finished 2nd in MVP voting in 2008, just falling behind of Kobe Bryant. Now, while there is a case for Paul winning the MVP over the Black Mamba, let’s stick to the facts for now. He finished 5th in MVP voting in 2009, while finishing in the top 7 in DPOY voting for both years.
In 2011, after the infamous trade that almost sent CP3 to the Lakers to join forces with Kobe, he was sent to the Clippers to form “Lob City” with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. He finished top 10 in MVP voting in each year except his last in LA, putting up an 18.8 ppg, 9.8 apg and 2.2 spg average in the 6 seasons he spent. Despite the talented roster, they were unable to make it past the semifinals, as injuries to Paul, Griffin and other teammates derailed the Clippers’ chances of making the Finals.
He was then traded to the Houston Rockets, pairing him up with perennial MVP candidate James Harden. This marks the first time Paul has played alongside another dynamic, ball-dominant guard, which naturally raised a lot of questions regarding their fit alongside one another. The Rockets proved critics wrong, as they finished with a 65-17 record, finishing 1st in the entire league. Harden and Paul beautifully co-existed on the court, with each taking the offensive load off one another. Paul had another great season, putting up 18.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 7.9 apg and 1.7 spg at age 32. CP3 turned it up to another level in the playoffs as he averaged 21/5/5 as he finally made it to the Conference Finals for the first time.
Matched up against the defending champions, Paul and the Rockets surprisingly found themselves with a 3-2 series lead. Unfortunately, CP3 went down with a hamstring injury in Game 5. As Harden fatigued, the Rockets ultimately lost the last 2 games against the Warriors. This only shows CP3’s impact to a team’s offense. Game 7 saw the Rockets miss 27 three point attempts in a row. There is no doubt that with Paul in the lineup, he would have figured out a way to break their cold streak.
All in all, Chris Paul is one of the more underrated point guards of all-time. Some lists do not even include him in the Top 10, which is pretty disrespectful to what he has done for the game. I would personally have him in my Top 5 (maybe even Top 3). Despite the lack of accolades, injuries and other external factors have prevented him from racking up more. With one of the best two-way skill sets the league has ever seen, his undeniable talent and skill in both scoring and defending and his overall impact on the court put him above other legends in my opinion.
What do you guys think? Where does CP3 rank all time in your lists?