By Mike Kyle
The best point guard in the NBA right now has never made it out of the second round of the playoffs. No, seriously. Chris Paul, also known as “CP3,” is the NBA’s best point guard who has never made it to the conference finals. He is the best point guard due in large part from support from his teammates and his high efficiency. However, the main reason for his greatness is his basketball IQ.
Three causes that make up Paul’s greatness are his teammates, his defensive play, and his passing abilities. Basketball is a team game, therefore teammates are important. “CP3” plays with some great players, alongside Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Jamal Crawford. Playing with other players with quality talent makes a player look better because the game looks smoother. The majority of the Clippers’ team has been together for more than three seasons, resulting in a lot of team chemistry.
Another cause for his greatness is his play on the other end of the floor, also known as defense (yes, contrary to popular belief, there is defense in the NBA). Paul has led the NBA in steals for the past six seasons. Specifically last season, he averaged 2.6 a game. Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers has stated that Paul is the best defender point guard-wise he’s maybe ever seen. Paul isn’t only guarding point guards, however. He has had defensive assignments of guarding players such as LeBron James and reigning MVP Kevin Durant. “CP3” is one of the league’s best two-way players today.
Passing is also one of his strong suits. Paul is awesome at setting teammates up for easy shots. He averaged 11 assists last season, leading the NBA. His assist to turnover ratio is 5.1, again leading the league. Through three games this season he has 40 assists to only three turnovers. Yes, you read that right: FORTY to THREE. His thread-the-needle passing is almost a product of perfection, showing tons of ability to throw tight, accurate passes.
Two more causes for Paul’s success are his efficiency and his ability to score with balance. Paul led all point guards last season in PER (player efficiency rating), which is a combination of every stat along with a few advanced stats. Not only did he lead all point guards last season, but also every season since 2007-2008. In fact, only 10 other times did a point guard finish inside the top ten in that span. Chris Paul was seventh in the league in win shares with 12.2 a game. Win shares are how much contribution you give for your team’s wins. The Clippers as a team averaged 107 points per game in 2013-2014. With Chris Paul averaging 11 assists (2 points per assist) and 19 points per game, that equates to 41 points, 38 percent of their total offense, by one player. Amazing. The 19 PPG was third among all point guards, and he was fourth overall in field goal percentage. The job of a point guard primarily is to distribute the basketball and put the team offensively in the best position possible. The NBA is turning from the traditional “pass first” point guard to the “score first” point guard. Paul has the concept of doing both down to a science. He led all point guards in double doubles with 39, and the next closest player, John Wall, finished with 29.
The main cause which leads to Chris Paul being the best point guard in the NBA is his basketball IQ. A point guard’s duty is to be an extension of the coach. Since Rivers and Paul have been together for four seasons, the two know each other extremely well, and know how the other sees the game. One of the other duties of a point guard that Paul excels at is knowing where his teammates are supposed to be at all times. He’s like a traffic director, calling out things he sees on the court, making offensive and defensive adjustments. He makes sure that the other players are in the correct position on both ends of the floor to help create the best offensive and defensive possession possible. Lastly, he makes the right play on a consistent basis. While there are times that the wrong play is made, the majority of the time the correct one is made.
The point guard position is the most competitive position in today’s NBA. However, there should be no debate as to who the best is in the league. It’s Chris Paul due to his offensive and defensive skill sets, his efficiency, and his basketball IQ. This is important because with a new NBA season, the best PG is always a topic of discussion when it’s clear that “CP3” is the best. Well, best right now…