Why Chris Paul Deserves to Be in the NBA’s MVP Conversation
Those Chris Paul versus Deron Williams debates of yesteryear about deciphering who the best point guard in the NBA was seem like a distant memory now that Williams has turned from a powerful floor general with an overbearing style to just overbearing.
In many ways, Paul’s reign as the best point guard in the NBA has been a mere formality in the past five years. CP3 has established himself as one of the most effective and efficient basketball players in the NBA -- especially during his tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Paul has made the All-NBA First Team each of his first three seasons in Los Angeles, and in the midst of one of his best seasons as a pro, it is kind of baffling why the fictional Cliff Paul seems to get more respect in the NBA community than the man from whom he was derived.
That is to say that Chris Paul is not getting much respect in the MVP conversation.
Maybe it has something to do with a growing disdain by the public of Paul’s complaining to referees, but it seems like the whole Clippers organization -- including head coach and team president Doc Rivers -- has rubbed the NBA community the wrong way lately.
Regardless, Paul has not changed his ways. He has continued to incense opposing players and the referees, which suggests Paul’s omission from the MVP conversation simply highlights the human emotion element that goes into awards.
However, if the writers who vote for the award were to look past Paul’s demeanor and into the numbers, then they would likely see that Paul should not only be considered in the conversation for MVP but may be worthy of even receiving some actual MVP votes.
By the Numbers
According to our nERD metric, which indicates how many wins a player adds to a team as a starter over 82 games, Paul ranks as the fourth overall player with a nERD of 17.6. That’s almost twice as high as MVP media darlings Lebron James and Russell Westbrook, whose nERDs are 9.4 and 9.8, respectively.
While Paul’s 19.2 points per game may not be as lofty as some of the other leading contenders, he might be the most dangerous offensive player in the NBA because of ability to get other players involved.
He currently leads the NBA in assists, averaging 10.2 per game, and he is also responsible for the most points created off of assists for the season with 1,801. Combine his points created off of assists with his total points for the season, and Paul is responsible for 3,262 Clippers points this season, which is 200 points more than MVP favorite Stephen Curry’s 3,014 points generated.
Paul is responsible for orchestrating the number-one most efficient offense in the NBA in terms of Offensive Rating (112.4), and he does it with his uncanny ability to know when to take over games scoring wise, while constantly putting pressure on opposing defenses by spoon-feeding his teammates the ball in the best position to succeed.
Paul most recently demonstrated that style of play in last night’s thrilling win against the Portland Trail Blazers, during which CP3 dominated the stat line with 41 points, 17 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, and remarkably only 1 turnover. While Russell Westbrook has lit the NBA world on fire with his triple doubles, CP3 has put up unprecedented numbers himself. In the last 2 seasons, Paul has been the only player to reach 35 or more points and 15 or more assists, and he’s done the feat twice.
If some of those numbers aren’t convincing, then let’s take a look at the narrative.
By the Narrative
The Clippers have seen a fair amount of success for the 2014-2015 season, and a lot of it has been done under non-ideal circumstances.
According to our power rankings, the Clippers are the second-best team in the league. They also boast the second best odds of holding the Larry O’Brien trophy, at 10.5 percent -- a distant second to the Warriors’ 41.2 percent.
The fact that the Clippers have put themselves in such a great position despite missing superstar Blake Griffin and the league’s leading scorer off the bench, Jamal Crawford, for a large chunk of 2015 is nothing short of amazing.
During the 15-game stretch in which both Griffin and Crawford were out, Paul basically put the Clippers on his back, upping his points per game to 21 on 51% from the field, and dishing out 12 assists per contest. The Clippers were able to go 9-6 during that stretch and keep their home-court advantage hopes in a tight Western conference.
Of course, during Paul’s huge stat line against the Blazers, he was the center of some less-than-ideal attention, as a potential cheap shot on Chris Kaman escalated into a shove by Kaman and a temporary scuffle. This just continues to make it harder to separate Paul’s on-court persona and his incredibly impressive numbers.
In the grand scheme of things, Chris Paul will probably not be winning the MVP award this season, but anybody who truly values the numbers should consider voting for him because of how well his stats stack up compared to the rest of the serious contenders.
Even with his temperament and the possibly adverse feelings against the Clippers, it is important not to overlook the contributions that Chris Paul has made to the Clippers, a winning team with a chance at a serious title run, this year.
You may not respect all of Paul’s on-court tactics, but you would be hard pressed to find a player more valuable and influential to his team’s success than Chris Paul.