Today my question is…What is the most important position in the game of basketball? From many opinions, I would say the person who is responsible for bringing the ball up the court. Wouldn’t you agree? There are many different point guard styles in the league from Russell Westbrook, who is extremely explosive and athletic, to Kyrie Irving, who has some of the best handles around. Today’s topic is “How good was Chris Paul in his Prime?” We will take a look at his career and evaluate his prime years in the NBA.
Chris Paul attended West Forsyth High School in North Carolina. For his first 2 years of high school, he played on the junior varsity team. He then moved up his junior season to the varsity team and averaged 25 points and 5.3 assists per game. His senior season, he scored 61 points in honor of his grandfather who passed away. He was named a McDonald All-American at the end of his career along with Lebron James in 2003.
CP signed to play for Wake Forest University. He led them to the NCAA March Madness Tournament, but took a loss in the Sweet Sixteen. He received the Rookie of the Year award for the ACC. His sophomore year, Wake Forest was ranked number one in the nation for the first time in school history. They made it once again to the tournament, but loss in the second round. After CP’s sophomore year, he entered the 2005 NBA draft and was drafted fourth overall by the New Orleans Hornets.
Chris Paul, who is a 6’1 point guard, was a threat right away, leading all rookies in points, assists, steals and double-doubles. He averaged 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He received the Rookie of the Year award. Paul didn’t receive his first all star vote until 2008, but he participated in the 2007 rookie challenge game , which is now known as the Team USA vs. Team World game. He set a record with 17 points and 9 steals and his rise to stardom was just getting started.
CP was selected in his first All Star appearance in 2008. He led the Hornets to a 56 win season, which was a new franchise record. They were a second seed in the western conference, but were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in 2008. Paul ended up signing a contract extension with the Hornets prior to the 2008-2009 season. Paul continued to average a double double, constantly increasing his numbers. Throughout his years with the Hornets, he suffered from multiple injuries that sidelined him for some time on and off. Paul was not happy with management changes, which caused him to explore his options as a free agent after the 2010-2011 season.
In 2011, CP was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers; however, the league did not let the trade go through. It was a very controversial trade, and even though Laker fans loved the idea, it was not possible. A few days later, Paul was successfully traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. This was the beginning of the “Lob City” era. Chris Paul was never the flashy point guard that people loved to watch, but he was efficient. He made the difference on the floor being the smart point guard he was. He did all the little things that mattered and this could not be seen by looking at his stats, although he was averaging a double double. He brought energy to LA by developing a reputation for this fast paced transition offense, and his spectacular lob passes to high flying dunkers, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. The Lakers were usually the favored team in LA, but fans started to flee towards the Clippers because the Lakers have not had a winning season for a while. Paul led his teams to the playoffs for 7 consecutive seasons, but never made a conference finals appearance. With more injuries to come, Paul led the Clippers to the playoffs every year, until traded to the Houston Rockets in 2017.
Paul was still battling injuries even after the trade, which caused his numbers to go down a bit. He missed 14 games in the first part of his season with the Rockets. Upon returning from an injury, he began to get back to himself. At the end of the 2017-2018 season, the Rockets were the number seed going into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. They were eliminated in the western conference finals. In the summer of 2018, Paul signed a $160 million four year deal with the Rockets, but he was soon traded to OKC for Russell Westbrook. His career averages are 18.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.9 assists, and 2.3 steals.
Now that we’ve taken a look at his career, when exactly was CP in his prime?
I would say that he entered into his prime very early in his career in the 2007-2008 season. His numbers were consistent and the Hornets were on the top for the first time in franchise history. He was runner-up for MVP after this season, first team All-NBA, and all defensive team. In the following season of 2008-2009, Paul recorded a triple double with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists, and only a few steals shy of a quadruple double. In the next season, 2009-2010, things started to slow down as Paul injured his knee in 2010, which caused him to miss the All Star game. He only played in 45 games that season, and the Hornets missed the playoffs. This was the end of his prime in my opinion. Once the LA trade happened, he was still a great player but after his knee injury things were never quite the same. He was once an athletic player, but with all the injuries he sustained, he switched up his playing style.
Chris Paul will always be considered one of the best point guards in the league. Injuries just seemed to get in the way for him. He is a solid point guard who is a great defender, passer, and loves to play the pick and roll. Because of his basic fundamental skills he has been very underrated in the NBA. He has never won an MVP award, nor a title. After 14 seasons in the NBA, Chris Paul still holds his ground and continues to improve the players around him with his intelligence.