Is Chris Paul underappreciated?

Photo courtesy of Alex Goodlett- CBS Sports

Is Chris Paul underappreciated?
March 31
13:31 2021

The Phoenix Suns is a much-improved team this season. At the time this article was written, the Suns sit in second place in the loaded Western Conference with a record of 29-14, only trailing the Utah Jazz in the standings. I am not saying it’s all because of him, but the biggest addition Phoenix made in the offseason was adding Chris Paul to the lineup. As usual, whatever team Paul is added to, that team instantly gets better and I think it’s time more people acknowledge his contributions.

At this point in the season, no one outside of the Phoenix Suns’ fans would have guessed they would be in this position this late in the season. Unless something catastrophic happens, the Suns look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. The team was trending upward last year, especially with their impressive 8-0 record in the bubble at Disney World last season.  

Paul seems to be that missing piece for the Suns, which has been the case for his career. In his career, Paul has played for the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and now the Suns.  

Coming out of Wake Forest in 2005, Paul was looked at as the quintessential franchise point guard and he did not disappoint. During his six seasons with the Hornets, Paul was a four time All-Star and became one of the best playmakers in the game.

The Hornets were never championship contenders during Paul’s time there, but there is no denying he made them a better team and more importantly, he made every player on the team better.

Paul was playing with guys like David West, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic and Bonzi Wells. Still, Paul continued to make the team competitive almost every year he was there. It was rumored before Paul was moved to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011, there was a proposed trade that would have sent Paul to Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook.  

That move would have changed the landscape of the entire NBA and probably the futures of several NBA superstars. I am not disparaging the skills of Westbrook, but if Paul was added to that Thunder team that included Kevin Durant and James Harden, we might be looking at the Thunder as the dynasty of the 2010s instead of the Golden State Warriors.  

Instead, Paul enjoyed a nice run with the Clippers for six seasons. He, along with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, took the Clippers from perennial losers to contenders. Even though the Clippers never won a title or even reached an NBA Finals during Paul’s time there, it’s no doubt that Paul turned around the fortunes of the franchise. I don’t think that has been celebrated enough.

The winning has followed Paul on his next two stops in Houston and Oklahoma City. If not for an injury, the 2018 Rockets more than likely would have made it to the NBA Finals. Once he moved to the Thunder, he surprised the entire league by not only making them a respectable team, but they finished 5th in the Western Conference in 2019-20. He was the lone star on that Thunder team that was in full rebuilding mode.

Now that Paul is 35, I would venture to guess that there were not many people betting on the Suns sitting so high in the Western Conference so late in the season and that must be attributed to Paul, based on his previous track record.  Wherever he goes, winning seems to follow.

During his illustrious career, the highest Paul has finished in the MVP voting is second and he also finished third on another occasion. I am not saying Paul should be the MVP for the season, but if the V in MVP really stands for valuable, then he should be in the mix. If you take Paul off the Suns’ team, I doubt they are a playoff team in a stacked Western Conference.  

This season, Paul is averaging 16 points and around nine assists a game, which aren’t gaudy numbers by any means; however, when you look at the back-to-back MVP seasons from Steve Nash in 2005 and 2006, they actually compare favorably. Nash averaged 15.5 and 18.8 points and 11.5 and 10.5 assists respectively during those seasons. 

Paul routinely gets overlooked when discussions of the best point guard to ever play comes up. Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Oscar Robertson are names that commonly are mentioned, which they rightfully should. My point is that Paul’s name needs to be right up there with all of those legends. 

In my opinion, Paul is the best point guard of my generation. Yes, there are better scoring point guards, but Paul is elite in all areas of what makes a point guard special. He knows when to score and when to distribute. He is also a top defender as he has led the league in steals on several occasions.

I don’t envision Paul winning an MVP before he retires, but I personally would love to see the man hoisting a championship trophy before he rides off into the sunset, because he deserves it. My hope is to have people give Paul his flowers while he can enjoy them. As a good friend of mine, Justin Moore, would say, he is the “Point God.”

The man continues to shine everywhere he goes.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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