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 Why I Love Chris Paul

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Scott
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PostSubject: Why I Love Chris Paul   Thu Dec 11, 2008 2:18 pm

Z texted me mentioning Chris Paul's game vs. the Bobcats, and he got me thinking about how much I love Chris Paul. I thought I'd share.

Paul had 15 points on on 5-5 shooting, 4-4 free throws, and 1-1 from 3. He also had 15 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. The lone blemish was a single turnover. This was accomplished in three quarters, as the game was easily in control and the starters rested in the fourth. The assist stat could also have been higher, as I counted 2 missed alley oops, one from Chris to Chandler (dubbed the Crescent City Connection by fans) and one from Chris to Rasual Butler.

To try to put those numbers in perspective, remember that the Hornets play one of the slowest paces in the NBA. Gaudy assist numbers are relatively common when playing fast paced games. This is for a variety of reasons. For one, a faster pace = more possessions, and simply more opportunities for assists. Two, a transition based game is much easier to get assists; the center rebounds, finds the point guard, who dribbles right up the middle with two wings running the lanes. 3v3 or 3v2 basketball leads to way more easy baskets than 5v5 basketball in a half court set. Third, fast paced games tend to tire out starters of opposing teams quicker, leading to more time for the backups, and therefore lesser defenses to pick apart. These three reasons explain why Chris Duhon went from backup point in Chicago to Steven Nash Jr. in New York. D'Antoni puts in a fast paced system, and Duhon is a competant guard so his numbers go crazy. These reasons are also to blame for Nash's drop this year. He's still a great player, don't get me wrong. I love the guy because he is one of the few true point guards capable of dominating a game. He just will never put up crazy assist numbers in the slower system they run now, and he never would have put those numbers up if he didn't play in a transition game.

Chris Paul is averaging nearly 12 APG in one of the SLOWEST environments in basketball. Sure, the hornets get out in transition a bit, just like every team, but they are NOT the run and gun team ESPN makes them out to be. 8 out of 10 possessions are walk-it-up, set up the offense deals. Slower games lead to less opportunities for assist, for the opposite reasons as those above. Case in point: the Hornets were 40-82 last night. 40 made shots. Chris had 5 of those makes, and assisted 15 more, meaning he had his fingers in a full HALF of the Hornet's baskets. And he watched the fourth quarter! The Hornets scored 17 in the 4th, so lets be conservative and say that's 5 shots and some free throws. Paul then contributed to 20/35 Hornets baskets, 57%! On the season, the Hornets average 36 makes in a game. CP3 scores 7 of those, and assists on 12 more. 19/36 = 53%.

These numbers suggest that Chris Paul is incredibly important to everything the Bees do (duh). But I would argue that they UNDERSTATE his impact on the team. For better or for worse, every possession possible runs through Chris. The best, and most seen on ESPN, example is the high pick and roll. Basically, Chris sets up at the top of the key. Peja and another shooter hang around each wing, West floats over by the corner, and Tyson comes becomes a seven foot wall. Chris slides past the wall, leaving the defense with a few bad choices to make. Do you go under the screen? Better hustle, Chris can shoot if you leave him open (though not as well as Nash, I would argue with anyone who would listen that Nash's shot is just as important to his assist numbers as is his court vision), but more likely he will just wait for you to recover and go right by you. Do you switch the pick? Can't really do that, because then you have a center covering Chris, and even worse, you have Chandler rolling down the lane covered by a point guard. Chandler + 6 foot defender = alley oop. Where's the help on the alley oop? Oh, its over by West in the corner. The final option is to fight through the screen, leave your center on Chandler, and just hope to God the help defense is quick enough to stop the layup. Most of the time, the help defense gets there. Unfortunately, it has to come from somewhere. Who's open, is it Peja on the near wing? Posey in the far corner? Or, my personal favorite, is it West sneaking just inside the free throw circle. With an average point guard, you could bring help and hope he doesn't find the open man. Chris just does.

The team is clearly built around Chris Paul. Let's examine where each teammate would be if Paul wasn't in their lives.

West - All Star power forward. He has developed a pretty little post game to go with his deadly 17 foot jump shot. But what team in their right mind would leave him open from 17 feet? Right, a team that just collapsed into the lane to contain Paul. What other all star shooting forward ever gets 4-5 open looks from their best distance each night? Amare doesn't, I'll tell you that. All Stars don't get wide open in the NBA, the defense is just too good. Unless, of course, you play with Chris Paul.

Chandler - Labled a bust in Chicago because he couldn't score. He still can't score, but he can jump, he can catch, and he can finish. Without Chris, Chandler would score maybe 4 a game on putbacks. He is a threat to triple that with Paul throwing lobs, and giving him easy dunks under the rim.

Army of Shooters - Peja, Peterson, Posey, Butler, Wright, and Brown all fall under this category. When Chris is in, they get to float around the perimeter and wait for a wide open jumper. It is no surprise that New Orleans is one of the best shooting teams in the league. That'll happen when you get fed the ball with so much room you feel like your in the pre game shoot around.

Chris doesn't just pass, he can also score. He can drive the lane pretty much at will, and finish as well as any 6 footer. He gets to line, and shoots 85% from there. He has a deadly floater that just makes me weak in the knees. He can shoot, despite what ESPN may tell you, but struggles to get the shot off because of his height. Being 4 inches shorter than your defender makes it tough to gain vertical space, so he needs to create as much horizontal space as possible. So please, enemy defenders, please keep going under the screen and give up the 20 footer. Appreciate the points.

Chris doesn't just play offense, he plays defense. He stays in front of his man with the best of them. His primary limiting factor is, again, his height. He's near useless rotating out to three point shooters, because they can just shoot right over him. Don't tell opposing coaches, but that is something that is rarely taken advantage of, and I think it could seriously become a problem if abused. Chris makes up for this in part by being the league leader in steals. ESPN plays this angle up, and I do think that looking at steals or blocks as measurement of defense is retarded, but it is still an impressive feat. Paul's anticipation is lovely to watch. He just swoops in when unexpected and takes off down the court. Paul has a steal in over 100 consecutive games, and is closing in on an NBA record there too.

Chris doesn't just bring it on the court, he has the intangibles to go with it. I have never watched a player be as much of a Jekyl and Hyde as Chris Paul. When interviewed, out in the community, or anywhere else but the court, he is the sweetest little boy you ever saw. He's all "Oh, my teammates are the key to my success. Come on guys, your making me blush." On the court, Paul is more intense than anybody save maybe Kobe and Garnett. You do NOT screw with Paul on the court. He gets "that look" sometimes, and you know he is about take over the game. He barks at refs, at opposing players ,at teammates, and, I would guess, internally at himself. The man wants to win so badly. There is no question that this is HIS team, HIS court, HIS game, HIS universe to do with what he pleases.

I am so thankful that I stumbled upon Chris in his rookie season. Chris Paul is everything I hoped to be growing up. Like Chris, I consider myself to be a pass first point guard. Like Chris, I struggle to get off three pointers (his limiting factor is height, mine strength). I'm probably taller than Chris (he's listed at 6 foot, but that's on a good day with platform shoes), and I'm certainly taller relative to my local game than Chris is to his. Like Chris, I like to think about the game and optimizing the potential to score on every play. I like to think the game, and I feel that Chris is the same way. Like Chris, I am rather pleasent off the court, but turn into an asshole once the game gets going. And like Chris, I bowl. I think I could even beat Chris at bowling, though not by much (he could work on his form though, he's got an ugly crook in his elbow when he rolls the ball).

Chris Paul has revolutionized my basketball life. Before Chris, I followed the NBA only passively. I watched the biggest games, and followed the biggest names. After Chris, I feel that I know as much as anybody around me about the NBA. I'm a smarter basketball fan and a smarter basketball player because of Chris Paul. I feel a special connection to Chris because I followed him from his rookie year, before he was a household name, to now. What will the future hold for Chris? He will continue to be the best point in the league, and I will argue that he is the second best player, behind only James. For now, he is a media darling, which means that within two years there will be a public backlash against all the attention he gets. I imagine the casual fan will grow tired of hearing about him, and his popularity will drop. I predict his temperment in game will cause him to make a mistake, and it will get blown out of proportion, and the casual fan will jump all over him. I hope to God this never happens, but I would not be surprised if it did.

I have never loved a player like I do Chris Paul. Sure, I've been a fan of lots of guys, particularly Tony G, Trent Green, and Reggie Miller. But I didn't give a damn about those guys beyond their talents as professional athletes. I give a damn about Chris Paul. When he is insulted in a public forum (insulted = not called the best point guard ever, not starting on the Olympic team), be it TV, interenet, or whatever, I become legitemately angry. I want to defend his honor, like I would defend a family member. Perhaps our sports idols ARE family members. They sit in our living rooms and entertain us with their athletic achievments, they run through our minds day in and day out, and we live and die with their successes and failures. I care as much about Paul's achievements as I do my own brother's.

I love basketball, I love the NBA, and I love the Hornets. Above all, I am a Chris Paul fan.
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Sn0man13

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PostSubject: Re: Why I Love Chris Paul   Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:13 pm

Great write-up scott. Paul is a beast. I kind of wish I could see pacers games, although I hate the pacers, I really do, I absolutely love Rush. I love the way that he plays all out but it seems like he isn't even trying. I loved watching him in college and he was my favorite player (next to Aldrich. Goofy 7 foot tall white guys with athleticism...)

Anyway, paul was absolutely screwed last year, he deserved the mvp not that trash kobe that won it. Notice this year that Kobe is kind of returning to his old ways...
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Scott
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PostSubject: Re: Why I Love Chris Paul   Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:50 pm

Thanks for the comment. Just out of curiosity, why don't you like the Pacers? Is it the brawl?

While I do think that Paul was deserving of the MVP last year, I'm not terribly surprised that Kobe won it. Sports writers are very vulnerable to group think, and once the idea got going that Kobe deserved an MVP before his career ended, there really was no stopping it. In the same way, I would bet money that Jerry Sloan wins his first Coach of the Year award the next time the Jazz do anything special at all. I felt that Kobe should have fallen behind both Paul and James last year.

That being said, Kobe is anything but trash. You can't argue with his talent, and now a days its getting difficult to call him selfish. Kobe is not at all returning to his "old ways", if by that you mean his chuck and score strategy from before they were good. You can say he is returning to his old ways if you mean his play back when Shaq was around and they were winning games and titles. He's definately doing that again.
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PostSubject: Re: Why I Love Chris Paul   Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:57 pm

I don't like the pacers because of the brawl. I also know that almost no players are left from that team, however I remember watching that game live... and it was disgraceful.

The kobe comment was mostly directed at a game I watched a while back. kobe was cold as ice and still chucking up bad shots too early in the shot clock. he shot like 24 times and made like 5 baskets or something like that. The part I don't like is that they were not wide open shots on the wing. they were contested. it was probably one game, but come on. I can understand pressing if you're cold, but try to drive and kick out like he is good at instead of taking contested jumpers...
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