Sick of arguing with your friends about who is the best player in the NBA? Leading into the ’13-14 NBA Season, Ball So Hard will be putting an end to the debate. Here is the decisive list of the 50 best NBA players.
Note: predictions are for the up coming season and rank players on how they will perform in the ’13-14 season.
No. 3, Chris Paul
No player in recent history has changed the fortunes of a franchise as dramatically as Chris Paul has improved the Clippers.
Sure, LeBron made Miami an immediate championship contender when he left Cleveland, but any team with Dwyane Wade on it will always be in the title mix.
The way in which Paul changed the on-court performances and public perception of the Los Angeles Clippers is unparalleled.
Yes, drafting Blake Griffin did make the Clippers more exciting, and the Baron Davis/Griffin tandem was certainly entertaining, but the Clippers didn’t truly become relevant again until December 14, 2011 when they dealt for Paul.
Everyone knew it was a major coup by the Clippers to steal CP3 from the clutches of the Lakers, Blake Griffin knew “Lob City” would be special, but nobody could have predicted just how massive the impact Paul would have on the Clippers would be.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 1984, the Clippers have only made six playoff appearances, two of those have come since CP3 joined the team (ending a 15-year stretch with only two ventures into the postseason).
In his first season in LA, Paul led the Clips to their first season above .500 in six years and only their eighth in 44 years in the league.
In his second year, CP3 pushed his team to a franchise-record 56-26 win/loss record, their first ever division title and highest playoff seed since they finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference as the Buffalo Braves in 1974-75.
Paul is the deadliest two-way point guard in the league.
He can shoot and score the ball, he has a career field goal percentage of 47.3% and 35.6% from three, and has hit 18.6 points per since joining the league. He is an incredible passer, leading the league in assists twice and never falling below 7.8 assists per game in his career. And Paul is an elite defender, leading the league in steals per game for five of his eight pro seasons and earning five All-Defensive Team honours (three first team and two second).
But what makes CP3 the best point guard in the league is not his skills with the ball, it is his unparalleled leadership and determination on the court. Standing 6-0 and weighing 175 lbs, Paul is one of the smallest players in the league, and he has never been the fastest or most athletic player on the floor. Paul is special because of his ability to excel despite not being blessed with the physical gifts of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James or Dwight Howard.
They say that the making of an elite NBA point guard is whether or not he makes those around him better. Steve Nash didn’t win two MVPs because he was the best basketball player in the world, he won because his ability to make his teammates better made him the most valuable player to his teams success in the world.
No other player in the league is as crucial to his team’s success than Chris Paul. There are players that are better scorers, better passers and even better defenders, but what separates CP3 from Isaiah Thomas and Ricky Rubio is his ability to help his team win games.
Whether it is putting the team on his shoulders in crunch time or finding the open man in the corner for a dagger jump shot, Paul will always make the best decision to get his team the W.
This season, with Doc Rivers at the helm and a slew of great outside shooters and defenders signing in LA, the Clippers are in the best position they have ever been to make a run at the title.
In his short time in Los Angeles, Chris Paul’s Clippers teams have been defined by regular season success and highlight plays, but you can guarantee CP3 remains hungry for more.
The Chris Paul Checklist
Make the league respect the Clippers: check
Make the playoffs: check
Win the Pacific division: check
Become the best team in LA: check
Win MVP: pending
Win the Western Conference: pending
Win the NBA Championship: pending
Win Finals MVP: pending
Do it all again: you’re damn right
Your move Chris.