Chris Paul is having an MVP type year some people say. There’s no real chance he takes the award from LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but he deserves at least some consideration. His 33 points, 13 assists and 8 steals game for the Los Angeles Clippers against the New Orleans Hornets was just another example of his ability and importance.
Paul had no problems torching his former team once again. The Horents were leading by 13 with 11 minutes to go, but as usual, managed to blow their lead. Having no actual go to guy does hurt you sometimes. This season hasn’t been as bad as some people thought it might be, but they’re still one of the weakest teams in the NBA, hopefully heading once again into a bright future.
Paul orchestrated the fourth quarter comeback, aided by Randy Foye continuing to be deadly from beyond the arc, hitting six three pointers, finishing with 24 points. He’s a three point field goal in each of the last 22 games, the longest streak in the league. He’s shooting just under 40% for the season, averaging 10.9 points per game.
But it was Paul, like always, that began every good thing the Clippers do. As exciting as it is to watch Blake Griffin soar and dunk, this has quickly become Chris Paul’s team. As the season approaches the postseason, it seems that every bit of chance the Clippers have of advancing deep into the playoffs rely on Paul’s ability not only to lead this team as a floor general but also act as the finisher as well. He averages 21.2 points per game when the Clippers win, 16.8 when they lose.
He’s also the anchor and trigger on defense. Finishing with a season high 8 steals, his sixth game this season with at least 5 strips, Paul’s energy and ability to lock down opposing point guards is what energized the players behind him to start acting a bit more responsibly. Sure, DeAndre Jordan’s athleticism and length allows him to get 2.1 blocks per game, 3 against the Hornets, but both him and Griffin are far from stopper kind of guys who shut down anyone entering the paint.
Defense comes down a lot of times to will and work ethic. Athleticism and certain awareness and floor intelligence helps, but a lot of bad defenders are like that because they’re lazy. With Paul, the Clippers have someone to follow and take an example from. How far can the 6’0 point guard take them? Despite being the 4th seed in the West and there are probably at least five teams most consider to be in front of them as favorites for the NBA title, the Clippers aren’t just about participating in the postseason for the first time since 2006.
As Chris Paul has said – I’d rather have a championship than MVP any day. This group, winning 14 of their last 17 games, is entering the postseason as the hottest team in the Western conference along with the Spurs and the Grizzlies. There are a lot of reasons not to put your money on the Clippers to go all the way or even make it out of the first round against Memphis, but if Paul plays lights out each night, therefore making everyone around him better as well, don’t be surprised to see the Clippers where we’ve never seen them before.