Chris Paul is one of the best point guards of all time, and there is no debate about that. Drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by the then-named New Orleans Hornets, Paul has been an immediate impact in the league, winning NBA Rookie of the Year in 2005-06.
The only thing that has held Chris Paul back is the fact that he has never won an NBA championship, much less made it to the NBA Finals. He has a great chance this year with the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.
Many people will disagree with this, but Chris Paul right now is the 3rd best point guard in NBA history, obviously behind Magic Johnson and Stephen Curry.
Why is CP3 3rd?
Well, that’s quite easy to show. He has all of the stats to back it up and honestly would be first on this list if it were solely based on stats. He is the number one ranked point guard all-time in box score plus/minus both in the regular season and in the playoffs, and he also has the highest win shares per 48 minutes.
Now, what do those statistics mean? Box score plus/minus (BPM) is a metric that measures just how effective a specific player is when he is contributing on the court. Win shares per 48 minutes is something that is more specific towards the player. It estimates how many wins a player can get for their team per 48 minutes. A player who has more minutes in the game will obviously have a higher number than someone who gets bench minutes.
Regular Season Performance
Chris Paul has had one of the most consistent 15-year careers in NBA History, which puts him in a select group of elite basketball players.
In 1090 career games, he has averaged 18.3 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 9.4 assists per game. He shoots just over 47% on field goals, 37% on three-pointers, and a career 87% free throw shooter.
He has led the league in assists 4 times in his career, with each of those seasons having more than 10 per game. Not known for his three-point shooting, he is the best mid-range shooter in today’s game. He utilizes the pick and roll to his advantage, whether it’s passing or scoring, which is why he is so dangerous and impossible to guard.
We saw it in New Orleans and with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he was able to create alley-oop opportunities off of pick and rolls for guys like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and David West. He also can pull back when switching and knock down a mid-range shot from the elbow.
But even outside of those incredible offensive numbers, he is considered one of the best defending point guards of all time as well. He averages 2.2 steals per game, which puts him in the top 10 all-time.
Even as a rookie, he was incredible on the defensive end, which is very rare to see from a point guard now. He led the league in steals with 175 of them, but he wasn’t done yet. He would go on to lead the league in steals per game 6 times in his career.
There is no doubt that Chris Paul has had an exceptional regular-season career, but many people look towards the playoffs to determine who really is an all-time great. In terms of comparison to Magic Johnson and Stephen Curry, obviously, those two guys are ahead of CP3 in terms of performance and accolades.
But, that does not necessarily discredit how Paul has performed in his career during the playoffs. He has been an exceptional asset for all of his teams and has even improved on his game when it matters.
He currently averages 20.4 pointers per game, 5.1 rebounds per game, 8.3 assists per game. He shoots a standard 47% from the field, 36% from outside the arc, and 85% at the free-throw line.
But then again, the thing that separates him from the rest is his impact on the defensive end, averaging 2.1 steals per game.
Obviously, all the stats are great and help his case, but the thing that makes Chris Paul so great are the intangibles he has. He has always been known as a great leader with an exceptionally high IQ.
Many experts and former players have said that Chris Paul is one of the smartest players in NBA history and really can attack any defense, even at his height disadvantage. But, the one thing that separates him from all these high IQ players is the fact that he has been leading teams in the past 4 seasons to the playoffs.
Even just last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder had a .2% chance to make the Playoffs, and with the help of Chris Paul, they were able to do just that. Now this season, he has led this young inexperienced Suns team to their first playoffs in 10 years and is now on the verge of making the NBA Finals.