A few months back, I traveled to Toronto to watch Chris Paul and his Hornets take on the Raptors; and although Paul did not have a good game statistically, he was just clearly the best player on the court that night. His performance prompted me to write that he was in fact still the best point guard in the game. I caught a lot of heat for it (mostly from Bulls fans) but he was just breathtaking to watch in person. But then something funny happened in mid-April: the New Orleans Hornets made the playoffs.
And that’s when a fellow North Carolina native’s song just seemed to make perfect sense for CP3. Cue in J. Cole:
“I’m coming home, I’m coming home,
Tell the world I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away
All the pain of yesterday
And all my kingdom awaits
And they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the world that I’m coming….
The home that Paul returned to? The NBA playoffs. It seems that most had forgotten just how good the former Demon Deacon had been in the playoffs in his last go round. Let’s serve up a reminder; have a look at Paul’s career playoff numbers prior to this year:
As impressive as those numbers were, the Hornets franchise player only took it up to another level this year as he made his return to the postseason. CP3 has displayed all the intangibles you would hope to have from your point guard, but more importantly from your best player. Indeed, he has been an impressive and fearless leader, he has constantly picked up and made his teammates look better and even better yet, he has put the fear of God into the Lakers (whether they care to admit it or not).
As valuable as all those intangibles are, we expect our superstars to produce, and truth be told, Chris Paul’s statistical output has not made him just the best point guard in these playoffs, but rather the best player. Have a look for yourself:
Still not impressed? Well there’s even better. Can you guess how many point guards in NBA history are averaging double figures in both points and assists? Off the top of the head, one would think it would be a list of maybe six or seven players at the most. Right? The names of Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Kevin Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Tiny Archibald and maybe Baron Davis immediately come to mind.
At the risk of surprising you, none of those names make the list. Only three players in NBA history have made the cut; and um, well just look at the list:
Magic Johnson and John Stockton are quite possibly the standard by which we measure floor generals in the NBA and the Hornets superstar appears on the list with them. Perhaps now would be a good time for all of us to stop comparing Chris Paul to other current point guards in the league.
Chris Paul versus Deron Williams? Close but the answer is Paul. CP3 versus Derrick Rose? Still, my pick is Paul. Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Tyreke Evans? Not in his league.
No point guard can match CP3’s abilities to score, run a team, get teammates involved, lead a fast break and defend. He is truly in a class all by himself. And finally, he is not doing this just against the Toronto Raptors; but rather he is doing it on a world stage against the two time defending champions in a terrific series. One might just say that Chris Paul is finally…