Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 6/29/13
Basketball thrives on the short attention span of its fans. Remember a few years ago when Dallas won the title and Dirk Nowitzki was suddenly the best player in the league? I love Dirk as much as anyone, but it was an utterly ridiculous argument for a player who can’t play defense and doesn’t have nearly the same offensive gifts as LeBron. We just love over and underrating players based on a few weeks despite years of evidence proving the contrary. I love Tony Parker. He’s an incredible point guard, a legitimate top-10 player in the league who was perfectly suited to take this particular Spurs team to the seventh game of the Finals. But is he the best point guard in the league? Hell no! We just have no attention span. I imagine Chris Paul hates watching the playoffs. He has to be seething watching his Olympic buddies and point guard contemporaries get all of the postseason credit while he’s sitting at home watching his best teammate make Funny or Die videos. Imagine Michael Jordan wasting his prime with Shawn Kemp doing blow after games and you’d get the idea. Tony Parker could’ve swept Miami and averaged 40 points per game in the Finals and I still wouldn’t have handed him the point guard crown. Don’t believe me? Check out these stats: Chris Paul age 26 season: 19.8 PPG, 9.1 APG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 SPG, 47.8 FG%, 27.0 PER, 58.1 TS%, 24.3% Usage Rate, .278 WS/48 Player B age 26 season: 18.8 PPG, 12.6 APG, 5.9 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 52.6 FG%, 24.0 PER, 61.0 TS%, 21.6 Usage Rate, .226 WS/48 This was Chris Paul’s first season in L.A., only a year ago. What should you take from those stats? Paul was a slightly better scorer and definitely a better defender. Player B was a better passer and rebounder, he had higher shooting percentages, but those are mitigated by Paul’s increased usage rate. In terms of overall value to the team, Paul has a fairly sizable lead in terms of PER and Win Shares, largely due to his increased workload and Player B’s teammates. Overall though, you’d probably say those two players were pretty similar. You thought I was comparing Paul to Tony Parker, didn’t you? Well I wasn’t comparing him to Parker, I was comparing him to Magic Johnson. That’s right, Chris Paul is in his prime right now and is so good that he has to be compared to the greatest point guard of all time. And there are teams that would rather have Dwight Howard, a prima donna with back problems, over this guy? Here’s what we know: Chris Paul, right now and on his own, guarantees you 45 wins and a playoff berth. He is the second most valuable player to a team on his own behind only LeBron. If you get him and flank him with the right supporting cast (which no one has done since ’08) you’re going to win between 55 and 60 games and challenge LeBron, Durant and whoever else is up there for a title. Here’s what we assume: Paul doesn’t like playing with the Clippers. He thinks Blake and DeAndre Jordan aren’t interested in winning championships, only dunk contests. He doesn’t want to play a run and gun style that would be hell on his knees (the only real issue he has right now), yet that’s exactly what Blake and Jordan want to do. We don’t know if these guys can coexist, yet the Clippers want to keep forcing it on us. Ready for a controversial opinion? If the Clippers are smart, they’d trade Blake right now. Blake Griffin is an All-Star, Chris Paul is a franchise player. He’s the one you build around. With him you need wings who can shoot and defend, one scoring big man and one defensive anchor. In other words, build a slightly better version of the ’08 Hornets. If the Clippers called the Bulls right now and said “you can have Blake if you’ll take back Caron’s contract and send us Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler” they’d do it in a heartbeat. Then they make the well-publicized Eric Bledsoe for Arron Afflalo deal and swap DeAndre Jordan for Marcus Thornton and cap fodder (which Sacramento would do in a heartbeat, they love big men with potential and they need to create an opening for McLemore to get minutes).  Suddenly the Clippers have a nucleus of Paul, Afflalo, Butler, Thornton, Noah, Jamal Crawford and some combination of Ronny Turiaf, Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins and a few minimum free agents. That team plays defense, hits open shots, and fits the mold of a Chris Paul team. They'd compete for a title.  It’s never going to happen, though. Donald Sterling loves Griffin too much, and teams never rock the boat like that. The goal nowadays is to accumulate stars, not give them away. Who cares if it actually makes you a better team or not? I think Chris Paul realizes that. I think he’s in a position where he doesn’t really care about things like market or star power, he just wants to put himself in a position to win. And really, I think it’s going to come down to two teams. First, let’s knock Houston out of the race. He’s not sharing the ball with Harden and he’s certainly not playing for a run and gun team that’s allergic to defense. Atlanta’s in the same boat; their whole selling point is letting him play with Dwight Howard. Aside from the fact that I doubt Howard is coming, do you really think Paul would want to play with someone so immature? Before the Doc Rivers signing, I really thought CP3 was headed for Dallas. I thought Mark Cuban would blow him away when he visited (if Cuban actually bothered to show up), I thought he'd realize that he wasn't winning a title with whatever mediocre coach the Clippers could find, and I thought overall the idea of wasting your prime on a Donald Sterling team just didn't seem very appealing to the league's most competitive star not named Kobe. But Doc changed things in more ways than one. Forget about what a great coach he is (overrated a tad in my book, but still great, of guys currently working or looking for work I'd easily take Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, Tom Thibodeau, and maybe even Frank Vogel if he didn't royally screw up Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals), think about what a leap this is for the Clippers organization.  Besides a one year stint with Larry Brown (the biggest coaching ***** in the history of sports, he'd probably coach your high school team if they asked nicely), the Clippers have NEVER had a competent coach. Generally it was because they didn't want to pay one. Now they're shelling out $7 million per year for Doc. I don't know if Donald Sterling is suddenly committed to winning. Maybe he's just committed to the idea of not losing. I just know that Doc was enough to get Chris Paul's attention. It would take something ridiculous to change Paul's mind now. Would I put it past Donald Sterling to do that? No, but at the moment I don't think he's going to screw up the most important free agency in his team's history. Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers, Max, five Years, $118 million By: Sam Quinn Twitter: @Rhinos_Cry_Too

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

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