The Oklahoma City Thunder are comfortably in the playoffs in the Western Conference, led by their 34-year-old Hall of Fame-bound point guard, Chris Paul. CP3, “The Point God,” has instantly improved every single team he’s been on: drafted by New Orleans, traded to the Clippers, traded to the Rockets, traded to the Thunder. The Thunder weren’t supposed to make the playoffs this season: they traded Russell Westbrook to Houston after trading Paul George to the Clippers. Few thought that OKC was still a playoff team despite receiving Chris Paul, and Danilo Gallinari, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, three good-to-great players who perhaps fit together better than what the Thunder had before.
So, how’s CP3 doing this year? Y’know, aside from leading his team to possible home court advantage in the playoffs?
Since January 1st, Chris Paul is the ONLY player in the NBA to average 10+ drives per game and shoot at least 60% on those drives (he’s at 60.7 DFG%). LeBron’s at 53.5% on drives in 2020, for comparison’s sake. LeBron James is 6’9” and 250 pounds; Chris Paul is 6’0” and 175 pounds.
On top of that, only 17 players even average 10+ drives per game and shoot better than 50% on those drives so far this season. Only 8 of those 17 also take four or more three point attempts per game, and have better than a 35% 3PT average. And, only 6 of those 17 take 4+ 3PA (with 35 3PT%) and average 6+ assists per game: CP3, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Kyrie Irving (I guess), Trae Young, and LeBron (he’s at 34.7 3PT%, we’re gonna go ahead and include the MVP). That’s a list of master distributors who can shoot from outside and score on penetration. ELITE offensive players.
Now, Chris Paul doesn’t score as much as some of the other elite offensive players in the league. He’s averaging 17+ PPG this season, something that 66 players in the NBA are doing. (He’s tied for 20th best in FG% off that list, if efficiency matters to you.) But, only 21 players average 17+ PPG and 6+ APG. 10 players average 17+ PPG, 6+ APG, and CP3’s RPG average, 4.9 RPG (he’s 6 six foot, and a point guard, and he grabs more boards than Kyle Kuzma and Brook Lopez). That list of ten is: Jrue Holiday, CP3, Kyrie, Stephen Curry, Harden, Jimmy Butler, LeBron, Westbrook, Luka, and Nikola Jokic!
Chris Paul’s still handsy, too: he’s top 14 in steals per game this year. As of Monday, March 9th, only six players have at least 90 total steals this year, and 90 total 3PM: Harden, Kawhi Leonard, CP3, Jrue Holiday, Fred VanVleet, and Robert Covington. (By the way, the Point God’s done that in 200 fewer minutes than Harden.)
As for fantasy, Chris Paul is a top 10 player this year. His ADP was 60+ and he was 57th in auction drafts (he and Ricky Rubio went for the same amount). That’s some nice goddamn value right there. Will his ADP next season reflect his performance this season? Or, will people distrust his age, and his team, and draft him later than they should?
All I can say is that while LeBron has looked like a reincarnation of his vintage self this season, so, too, has Chris Paul! He scores on drives better than anyone but GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO. The Point God looks like a reinvigorated vintage version of himself; freed from having to compromise his game to fit his star teammates, he can now return to his true purpose, which is being the best point guard, and best player, on a team that plays to his strengths. He has a good interior partner in Steven Adams, he has good outside threats in Danilo Gallinari, SGA, and Dennis Schroder (who is having a dynamite year in the three-guard setup, all due credit to Billy Donovan), and he has a team that’s willing to be choreographed by one of the greatest basketball conductors of all time.
The Point God is alive and well and thriving, and continuing to do what he’s done his entire career: elevate his squad to a dangerous playoff team.