Is Chris Paul The Best In The Business?


Chris Paul has long been considered as the NBA’s top point guard. A stellar passer, great shooter, and a basketball I.Q. that runs off the charts are all major parts of his game. This season, however, Paul has been somewhat overshadowed by the likes of Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook in a league ripe with point guard talent.

Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-108. Paul finished with 33 points and nine assists, while Westbrook posted 24 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. Considering the fact that Westbrook has been on an unbelievable tear lately, these numbers, while great, were somewhat of a downgrade to what he’d been doing prior. Paul, who is also a phenomenal defender, forced Westbrook into some bad shots, of which he loves taking.

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While Paul has been overlooked this season, he continues to produce at a superstar level, as shown in Wednesday’s game. After his team’s hard-fought win over the Thunder, the question arises: Is Chris Paul still the league’s premier point guard?

If stats are to answer this question, the answer would likely be no, but everyone knows that stats are only part of the equation when evaluating a player’s talent, and impact on a game. Though Paul continues to lead the league in assists (as he does almost every year) some would consider the league-leading 27.3 points per game of Westbrook, or the out-of-this-world shooting of Stephen Curry, to be more valuable.

Those people should be referred to defensive game-film of Chris Paul.

While he doesn’t lead the league in steals like he so frequently does (advantage: Curry) he is still a tenacious defender, willing to do whatever it takes to will his team to a defensive stop. Stephen Curry is a much improved defender — not only improved, but elite. No disputing that, though at times, he doesn’t seem to be quite as committed to defense as Paul does.

Effort is a major factor defensively for any player, or team, and Curry doesn’t always seem to put enough forth. Just ask the Denver Nuggets about effort. They’d love to talk about it. As for Westbrook, he’s a freak athletically, and that helps on defense, but he’s not an elite back-court defender.

Not yet anyway.

As far as passing, which is the lifeblood of the point guard position, there are many great passers in the league, and they all do it differently. Chris Paul prefers to set his offense, initiate his team’s off-ball movement, then outsmart the defense by placing the ball right where they don’t expect it.

Paul is the king of his own castle

And if that doesn’t work, he can always just throw an alley-oop to DeAndre Jordan.

Westbrook, as well as the much-improved John Wall get their assists primarily from beating their defender off the dribble, collapsing the defense, and kicking out to shooters, or handing it off to a waiting big-man to finish the possession. Stephen Curry likes to get his assists on the perimeter, finding ways to get the stable of excellent shooters that Golden State possesses open for a clean look.

Scoring has become a crucial facet of the point guard game in today’s NBA…unless you’re Rajon Rondo, you need to be able to score consistently to fit today’s point guard mold. Paul, Curry, and Westbrook are all very capable scorers, though it’s hard not to give Westbrook the advantage in this category, though Curry’s top-notch shooting would beg to differ, the aforementioned league-leading scoring of Russell Westbrook has been sensational, and a pleasure to watch this season.

While Paul can get to the rim, as well as shoot from anywhere on the court, his preference to pass rather than score on most nights is likely what brings his scoring numbers down.

The question of who the best point-guard is has no simple answer, though Chris Paul shouldn’t be forgotten in the sea of marquee point guards that exist in today’s NBA.