How Much Chris Paul Really Meant to the Clippers
It’s been weeks since the Houston Rockets traded for Chris Paul (feels like a lifetime, right?) and made themselves a legitimate contender to the Golden Warriors. The Los Angeles Clippers loss is the Rockets’ gain and they have certainly gained plenty in the Point God. The term Point God shouldn’t be thrown around lightly, yet that’s the only appropriate way to describe Chris Paul. He’s an angel assister, a stealing saint and a deity on defense. Hyperbolic religious alliteration doesn’t do Paul’s play justice, so we’ll let the numbers do the talking.
The Offensive Side
When you research any stat relating to assists and passing you’ll inevitably find Paul’s name. He’s always at the top of the assist leaders every season and his time with the Clippers is where he’s truly flourished. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty (just to preface if you don’t like tables and stats this article may not be for you).
Since joining the Clips in 2011 Chris Paul has averaged 9.8 assists, peaking in the 2013-14 season with 10.7 assists. In that year and the following year he was the league’s leader for assists per game. To delve into those assist numbers even further let’s look at his assist percentage. For those who may not know (trust me I didn’t before doing some hardcore research for this article) Sporting Charts defines assist percentage as “a metric that estimates the percentage of field goals made by a team that a particular player assisted on while he was in the game”. So it’s not just about assists but the quality of assists and as you’ll see Chris Paul has consistently thrived in that area:
Putting those stats into perspective only John Stockton has a greater overall career AST% than CP3 with 50.24%.
Paul’s impact on the offensive end goes beyond just passing. He has a great mid-range and pick and roll game, plus he’s a more than capable 3-point shooter. In fact last year he had the same percentage as Steph Curry (41.1%), though to be fair to the Baby Faced Assassin, he did have the most three-point attempts in the league. As for his overall offensive rating this is where CP is truly in a league of his own:
Chris Paul has the best offensive rating of any player across his entire career, ahead of the likes of Reggie Miller, Magic Johnson and John Stockton.
Put bluntly, Chris Paul’s absence leaves a gaping hole on the offensive end for the Clippers. His passing, shooting and overall offensive impact cannot be understated. He is in true rarified air on that end, and Doc is certainly going to have his hands full finding ways to replace such a gifted player.
The Defensive Side
CP3 is a beast on the defensive end; his active hands and general basketball nous allow him to have a massive effect on the opposing side of the ball. Let’s take a look at his stealing numbers. The following are his steals per game and steal percentage averages:
As expected those are elite numbers and while irreplaceable is a strong word, there aren’t many players in today’s game who produce as much on both ends of the floor as Paul does. That’s not even taking into account his defensive rating, which like his offensive rating is impressive to say the least:
When you combine his offensive and defensive rating you get a player who is 8th All-Time in Player Efficiency Rating.
Paul is one of the league’s great leaders. Like all great players he demands the most from his teammates. His style has caused friction with teammates along the way though it is ultimately for the betterment of the team. Mike Malone, Nuggets head coach even went as far as calling him “probably the best leader I’ve ever been around.” On court play is important (especially when you’re as good as Paul is) but leadership, passion and drive are skills you can’t teach. Those qualities are going to be as equally difficult to replace for the Clips.
CP is unfairly seen as a player who fails at the most important times. His lack of playoff success has been well documented though few know who much of a true winner he really is. Win Shares show how much each player influences his team’s success. Many will be surprised to hear that CP3 is 2nd all time for Win Shares per 48 minutes. Yes that’s right, he’s had more impact on his team’s winning than Kareem, LeBron, Wilt and David Robinson. As you’d probably expect the player who is 1st on that list: Michael Jordan.
If you’re as overwhelmed by all those numbers as much as me don’t worry. If you take anything from this article (other than an unholy amount of statistics) it is that Chris Paul is a guaranteed future Hall of Famer, savant on both ends of the floor and a top 5 PG of all-time. Those types of players come around once in a generation, and yes the package the Clippers received was more than generous, it still pales in comparison to the numbers Paul would’ve likely put up.
All stats cited were provided by Basketball Reference.