I’ve always thought Chris Paul is the ultimate package at the point guard position. He’s a competitor, has great basketball IQ, he gets his teammates involved, he can shoot, he’s crafty, he’s a terrific passer and a great leader. I never really had a problem with Paul being tabbed as the “best point guard in the NBA.” But if we are going to be consistent with how we judge NBA superstars, enough is enough. Paul has proven time and time again in his career to be a loser, not a winner.
Now before you get all up in arms about what I’m suggesting, take a second look at his playoff success. Take a look at how we view Tracy McGrady, or Grant Hill, or Carmelo Anthony and then look at what Paul has accomplished as a so-called “great leader.” Nothing.
In his eight years in the NBA, Paul has led his team to the playoffs five times. Three of those times his team has been one-and-done. Paul has only won two playoff series in his career, that’s a 2-5 record in playoff series.
Yes, Paul has been spectacular in the playoffs (he has career playoff averages of 20.9 points per game, 9.5 assists per game and 5.0 rebounds per game). Yes, Paul has never had a championship-caliber team. But this year was different.
The Clippers were expected to make a deep run in the playoffs. They solidified their bench, had the best season in team history and saw how Blake Griffin improved as an all-around player.
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But the Clippers crashed and burned, losing four straight in the First Round of the playoffs to the Grizzlies. And even if Griffin’s bum ankle had a lot to do with it, the reality is the Clippers, and Paul, failed massively to meet expectations. The Clippers’ season ended as early as the 37-45 Milwaukee Bucks. Head coach Vinny Del Negro has since been fired and Paul’s reputation remains intact.
Let me be clear in saying that I don’t believe an individual player should be solely evaluated on team success. As I mentioned, Paul is a terrific point guard. But I have a problem with how we judge athletes differently based on perception.
We criticize McGrady for never getting his team over the hump despite his playoff numbers and despite him always being a part of god-awful teams (in case you were wondering, McGrady has playoff averages of 25.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 5.5 APG, all better numbers than his career regular season statistics).
Paul has to know the pressure will keep rising every year. It won’t be long before the national media dub him the next McGrady. It won’t be long before people say, “great player, but he’s never won anything.”
At the end of the day, that’s who Paul is: a great player who has never won anything. That’s not what I think of him, but that’s how we would judge him if we we’re being consistent here.