Why Aren't We Talking More About Chris Paul's Dominating Start?
The early player storylines this year in the NBA have largely revolved around young, up-and-coming NBA stars potentially taking over their older counterparts who have dominated for so long. Has Stephen Curry or John Wall taken over Chris Paul as the BPGITW (Best Point Guard in the World)? Has Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant taken over LeBron James as BPITW (Best Player in the World)? Has James Harden taken over Kobe Bryant for MHPITW (Most Hated Player in the World)?
We’re all very excited to crown our young superstars – and rightfully so in some cases – but we can’t miss out on the “old guys” who are still tearing up the league.
Let’s talk about Chris Paul.
The Clippers started the year with a mediocre 5-4 record after nine games, which wasn't what most expected from a title-contending favorite. Analysts were quick to elevate the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers; meanwhile, the Clippers have ripped off eight wins in their last nine contests. What’s even more impressive is that the win streak came during a stretch where they played seven straight road games.
Within this stretch, Chris Paul is scoring at a rate of 1.38 points per possession and 1.41 points per each shot. The current best offense in the league is Toronto, who is scoring at a rate of 1.16 points per possession. So yeah, CP3 is dominating right now.
Advanced-stats wise, the story is the same. According to PER (player efficiency rating), win shares, win shares per 48 minutes, and VORP (value over replacement player), Paul is a legitimate MVP candidate through the first month of the season.
|PER (Rank)||WS (Rank)||WS/48 (Rank)||VORP (Rank)|
|Chris Paul, 2014-2015||27.7 (4)||4.1 (1)||.319 (1)||7.0 (4)|
And CP3 is helping on the defensive end as well. When he is on the floor, opponents are only scoring at a rate of 1.00 point per possession, bottom of the league. Compare that to how the Clips are scoring as a team with CP3 in – 1.30 points per possession – and you get a ridiculous plus-30 net rating.
The Clips are a good example of teams regressing to their mean after a sub-par start to the season. Odds reflected preseason that they were one of the three or four favorites to win the title. After starting slow and having other Western Conference teams starting quickly, the Clips are now quietly showing again that they are indeed good enough to win a championship.
Expect them to continue this run for a while –- out of their next 20 games, 13 of them are at home, including a nine-game homestand starting Christmas and extending to the 14th of January. Of those 20 games, 12 of them are against Eastern Conference foes. In fact, at the Spurs on December 22nd and at Portland on January 14th should be the only two games in that stretch where they won’t be favored.
While teams like the Grizzlies start to play a difficult schedule, the Clippers are coming out of a tough start and get a very easy next month and a half. While they may not win 18 out of their next 20, it’s very likely that they could easily go 15-5. At that time, they would be sitting at 28-10 and easily in the running for a top-four seed and homecourt advantage in the playoffs.
So, while the Clippers might not be the most fun story right now, and Chris Paul might be the older point guard without the flash of Curry or Wall, they're very good and Chris Paul is very good. If the Clippers are considered the best team in the NBA by mid-January, don’t say I didn’t warn you.