The ‘Point God’: Chris Paul is already one of the greats of always

These are the numbers of a career already, or rather for now, 16 years in the NBA: 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 9.4 assists and 2.1 steals per night with 47% in total shots, 50% in shots of two, 37% in triples and 87% in free throws.

More: There are eleven all stars (with one MVP), nine inclusions in the All NBA quintets (four in the first) and nine in the defensive All NBA (seven in the first). The Rookie of the Year award (only one vote left, which was taken by Deron Williams, to be unanimous), four seasons as the NBA leader in assists and six as the leader in steals. And two Olympic golds in (2008, 2012), the best versions of the Reedem Team, a team that will be remembered as almost, almost as legendary as the Dream Team.

More? Yes: star of high school, college and professional basketball. The entire lot at only 1.83 tall. In the total of his career in the NBA, almost 20,000 points (in the historical top 50) and fifth with the most assists: 10,175. More than Magic Johnson, in the group of six who have reached 10,000 and with options to surpass Mark Jackson, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd and remain only behind the unreachable John Stockton (extraterrestrial brand: 15,806). In steals, 2,317, again fifth historical and again with options to retire only behind a Stockton that is the only one with 3,000 (3,265 exactly). There are almost as many robberies as losses (2,597) and a attendance / loss ratio of 3.9. That is, almost 4 assists guaranteed for each turnover.

And more! Lots of decisive actions in even finals, many last quarters to remember, a house-brand move that is lethal (the side step, the step to the side with which you gain space to shoot) and, over 35 years old (turns 36 in May) an average of 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.4 steals. With 35 years and at least 15 points, 8 assists and a steal per night, there is only him (if the season ends like this) and the 2019-20 LeBron James. If we remove the robbery and limit ourselves to 15 + 8 with at least 35 years, only two other players appear in the story: Steve Nash and Lenny Wilkens. In this 2019-20 season, a four-game stretch with 40 assists and one loss has been allowed in this month of April! He stretched to seven with 67 basket passes for 3 losses. In the last decade, he has added 29 games with at least 10 assists without any losses.. More than the three that follow…. Together: 10 Rajon Rondo, 9 Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry.

He will retire with more than $ 300 million amassed in sports contracts alone and a long stint as the president of the players’ union (NBPA) during the years in which players have enjoyed the greatest economic boom and the best working conditions that the game has ever seen. League.

The player is, of course, Chris Paul. One of the best bases in history. This season, the first in Phoenix Suns, he is leaving the umpteenth demonstration that We have seen a legendary career without, I think, always valuing it in a fair measure, without enjoying it as much as we should. We won’t see many players like him. The definition of the playmaker has always made his teams better, and his teammates. Always: the player with the best shooting percentage was between 2012 and 2017 DeAndre Jordan, his center in the Clippers. When he traded Los Angeles for Houston, that privilege went to Clint Capela, his center on the Rockets. These are the winning percentages of his teams in the season before he arrived and in the first season with him as director of operations:

NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: from 22% to 46%

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: 39% to 60%

HOUSTON ROCKETS. 67% to 79%

OKC THUNDER: 59% to 61%

PHOENIX SUNS: from 46.6% to, for now, 70%

When he reached the Hornets (number 4 in the 2005 draft) he shot the franchise towards his record for victories (56) and a real assault on the ring that remained in the second round of the playoffs (2008). On the Clippers, he transformed a damn franchise: six years in the playoffs, four with more than 50 victories. In Houston he teamed up with James Harden to give the franchise its best win record (65-17) and a title attempt that died in the seventh game of the West final against one of the best teams in history, the Warriors of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. In the Thunder, when he seemed discarded as an elite player, he improved the balance of a team that had lost Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Jerami Grant. Y in Phoenix has been the ultimate transformed item of a team that has been without a playoffs since 2010 and since 2014 without a winning balance above 50%. Looking like a wildcard contender to the ring, the Suns are, if they put their minutes away from the garbage of games, one of only three teams (Jazz and Bucks are the other two) in the league’s top 10 in both offensive rating and ratings. defensive.

Why has it been difficult at times to place Chris Paul in the historic grassroots elite? Of course, he is a player who has not liked many rivals because he is frankly edgy on the court, one of those competitors with a bag of tricks, capable like few others of upsetting everyone on the opposite team: players, coaching staff and , of course, fans. Also, and this is surely the crucial point, Not only has Paul not won any rings, but he hasn’t played a Finals yet.. And until 2018, with the Rockets, he had not played a conference final. Something unusual for a player with his level and his career (in the League since 2005, let’s remember). And even then, in what seemed like the year, he was injured in Game 5 against the almighty Warriors, when his Rockets put it 3-2 in his favor. They did not win again, already without Paul in the last two games.

More injuries: In the first round of 2016, the Clippers led the Blazers 2-1 before injuring Paul (broken hand) and Blake Griffin. They won no more. In 2015 Paul led the Clippers in a historic victory over the champion, San Antonio Spurs, in the first round: seven games (4-3) closed with a prodigious performance of the point guard, who played the seventh injured and scored the winning basket to finish in 27 points and 6 assists. The injury took its toll in the second round, when the Rockets rallied 3-1 to some Clippers who were taking on the appearance of losers in the spectacular Lob City project (the city of alley oops from Paul to Griffin and Jordan). Still, Blake Griffin was clear about the significance of his point guard: “He put those Clippers on the NBA map.”

Paul (like almost all great players) has also had resounding failures in momentous moments: against the Thunder in the second round of 2014 or, without going any further, with the Thunder’s own jersey and against his ex-Rockets whom he led to seven games in the bubble playoffs last fall, but failed to point them in a bad seventh finish in which he racked up errors, decision and execution. To top, He has been haunted by the sound of his failed transfer to the Lakers, the famous veto or no veto (depending on who’s telling it) of the NBA, which acted as the Hornets’ bridge owner and stopped the operation because it thought it was not profitable enough for the seller. It was a December 11, 2011. Three days later, the trade was made to the Clippers and Paul was left without playing alongside Kobe Bryant. One of the great what ifs in recent NBA history.

When he left the Houston Rockets, after a bad second year in which his connection to James Harden exploded, his contract became a public matter of toxicity that has ended up not being so much. After a four-year, $ 68 million extension in 2008 and another 5×107 deal in 2013, He took a 4×160 in the summer of 2018, already 33 years old and with a player option for the next season (2021-22) of 44.2 million. With 36 years. A priori pure poison, right now not so much. Not in view of the performance of a player who has exceeded any expectation in the last two seasons, precisely when he had questioned (summer 2018) how much gasoline he had left in his tank. So much so that now It is not ruled out that he renounces those 44 million (unimaginable not so long ago) and tries to sign a contract for a higher volume and more seasons. He’s playing that well for a Suns who, for now, have everything Paul asks for to continue beyond next summer. In fact, the point guard pushed to Arizona and wasn’t as keen on playing Eastern contenders like the Sixers and Bucks. The Suns thing smelled good to him and, for now, it seems his instincts were right.

Paul, who was accused of influencing changes in the collective agreement (as the face of the union) in order to hit the blow of that last super extension, has ended up putting a gear not entirely expected in this stretch of his career, which is definitely making him one of the great game directors of all time.

A promise that was already very real to those who saw him play in Wake Forest, in the legendary war of universities in North Carolina (the battles of Tobacco Road and ACC), the state in which he grew up and became All American in West Forsyth High School, where in his senior year he averaged 30.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6 steals. And he signed a 61-point match as a tribute to his grandfather, who had been assassinated at the age of 61. shortly before and whom he has always considered an essential figure in his life. Paul, who thought about putting basketball aside when he received that blow, devised the tribute, reached 61 in a 2 + 1 action, missed the additional free throw on purpose not to go overboard and went to the bench to cry in the arms of his father, without any interest (he had time to spare) to beat the state record (66 points). By then it was already CP3, the nickname they gave him in his family because he shared initials with his father and older brother. Later it became much more than a base, the Point God (pun with god and base, god and point guard). One of the great players ever.