WILL PAUL FINALLY GET OVER THE HUMP?

by PRINCE DAVID MINKAH-KWARTENG
by PRINCE DAVID MINKAH-KWARTENG

So, if you were a NBA Point Guard who’s played the game at a high level for 12 seasons with a resume that includes: Rookie of the Year, 9 All-Star teams, an 8x All-NBA player, 2x Olympian Gold Medalist with career averages of 18.7 points and 9.8 assists, we all would agree that would be enough for first ballot Hall-of-Fame status.

Those are the numbers of Houston Rockets Point Guard Chris Paul. The six-foot, 175-pound North Carolina native has been special since he burst on to the scene at Wake Forest. A do-it all point guard with great vision, who can score and play defence, who plays with such a tenacity that rivals Detroit Pistons great Isiah Thomas.

Even with the similarities with Paul and Thomas, Paul has not won a championship or has led a team to a deep playoff run in his career. It is the only blemish for a guy regarded by many as the premier point guard in the NBA. His numbers over his 12-year career proves that is he is indeed one of the all-time greats. Unfortunately, in the world of sports you are judged on wins and losses when it matters most. Chris Paul with the exception of playing for loaded Team USA on the international stage, had not yet won a big one.

Some will say Paul has had some hard luck and some unfortunate things go against him. He played on mediocre teams, in New Orleans and Los Angeles Clippers, had former NBA Commissioner David Stern veto a trade to the Lakers to play alongside Kobe Bryant, or the 2015 Clippers blowing a 3-1 to a Houston Rockets team that featured James Harden and Dwight Howard.

This summer a trade to the Houston Rockets presented the opportunity to play alongside MVP favourite James Harden and arguably the most talented team Paul has played with. There were questions on how two ball-dominant guards would be able to share the ball with one another. Even with differences in playing styles and demeanor, both have been able to mesh well on the court. Per. 100 possessions the Rockets are +13.9 when the duo have been on the court together.

The Houston Rockets have a record of 65-17 and are first in the west. Even though Paul has been limited to 57 games this year (Injuries), he has averaged 18.6 points per game to go along with 7.9 assists. That is a stat line of 20.1 points and 8.9 assists per 36 minutes on the court. With Paul on the court, the Rockets are a +7.8 per 100 possessions and have an offensive rating of 120.1 with Paul. It has been a dream season so far in Houston. As great this regular season has become, this season and perhaps legacy will be defined by how far Chris Paul and Harden can take the Houston Rockets.

Any doubts any critic has had with Chris Paul, from playoff performances (even though he has career averages of 21.4 points per game and 9.4 assists per game), leadership qualities, aging (12th season 32 years old) can all be erased with a signature moment. All greats have had defining moments that have cemented their greatness. Paul has a unique opportunity to do in Houston.

This 2017-2018 season represents his best chance to finally make a deep playoff run or better yet, capture his first NBA title. One that would put a signature in one of the great NBA careers. Playing on a loaded and talented roster, Chris Paul has the necessary ingredients to define his distinguished Hall-of Fame Worthy career. With the defending champs, Golden State Warriors battling injuries and issues with championship-level focus, the Rockets have the best chance to unseat the champs and play in the NBA finals for the first time since the Houston Rockets beat New York Knicks in the 1994-1995 season.

I would hate for a great player like Chris Paul, who has had a great career be defined never playing in the big dance or winning anything. Here is a guy who helped usher in new era of talented point guards in the NBA. You don’t want the Dan Marino label of points guards, but even then, at least Marino has led a team to a Super bowl. The time is now for CP3.

This article was originally published on pdmsports