Five full days removed from another unceremonious ejection from the playoffs for the Los Angeles Clippers and you may have come across a nincompoop or two who is not only convinced that Chris Paul is the primary culprit, but is also overrated as a player entirely.
Despite memes like this floating around, Paul is the greatest player in the history of two franchises, an accomplishment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. One of those franchises, the one he’s on currently, has been around for 47 years.
Sidebar: Apologies to Bob McAdoo and his run with the Buffalo Braves in the mid-1970’s. If you want to debate him, Paul is clearly the best Clipper since the team arrived in Los Angeles in 1984.
Yet thanks to this hyper-ring focused era of sports fandom (thank you Jordan stans), Paul’s place in the game has been marginalized, while his talent and ability to lead has been called into question by many as he’s failed to reach the conference finals. For anyone who has watched Paul closely since entering the league in 2005, you know this blanket black & white criticism of him is wildly unjust. This isn’t to say he hasn’t played a role in his team’s springtime shortcomings, but to place the bulk of the blame on him simply because he’s the best player is erroneous.
So in an act of pure magnanimity, I present to you: An Idiot’s Guide to Debating Idiots About Chris Paul.
This is for the rational sports fan. This is for the fan that actually watches Clipper games. This is for the fan that doesn’t automatically think Montana is better than Brady because Montana went undefeated in Super Bowls and Brady lost twice. This is for the fan that is intelligent and assiduous enough to both see and appreciate nuance. This is for those whose formative years as a sports fan weren’t shaped by Skip and Stephen A. arguing in front of an uncomfortable moderator. This is for fans who don’t view the barbershop as the holy grail of sports talk (a lot of dumb stuff is said in barbershops). This is for fans who don’t live and die by counting rings.
If this ain’t you, thanks for clicking! Please share this piece anyway. If this is you, let’s begin.
“Man, Chris Paul is OVERRATED!!! LMAOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”
“Can’t get his team to the conference finals. Just got bounced by the Jazz in the first round. THE JAZZ THO! *multiple crying laughing emojis*”
He averaged 25 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, on 50% shooting, and added two steals a game.
“Yeah but what he do in Game 7? That’s all that matters.”
Pretty sure all the games matter, but that wasn’t his best game. He should’ve been more aggressive looking for his shot from the beginning. He tried to facilitate too much early and couldn’t find a rhythm.
But do you realize in the first six games he averaged 27.3 points, 10 assists and 5.2 rebounds on 53% shooting? He did that while holding down George Hill and guarding Joe Johnson and Gordon Hayward for stretches because no one else on his team could. If Paul is guilty if anything, it’s really just picking the worst time to have his worst game.
“That’s cuz he ain’t clutch!”
He made the game-tying shot in Game 1 in the final seconds.
“They lost that game at the buzzer.”
Because Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford switched on Joe Johnson’s pick for no good reason. It ain’t the first time Blake and Jamal screwed up in a playoff game. That ain’t Chris’ fault either.
“A loss is a loss and CP0 lost in Game 7 at home. If he was really a killer he would’ve put the team on his back in Game 7.”
Not exactly sure why being a “killer” is relevant, but Paul’s competitiveness is well known and his track record in Game 7s is pretty decent.
“Okay, he did alright in those games. But is that it?”
Well, he played most of that Spurs game on one leg. But here are his career Game 7 numbers going into the Utah game.
Chris Paul's Career Game 7s:
2015: W vs SAS 27-2-6
2015: L @ HOU 26-5-10
2014: W vs GSW 22-2-14
2012: W @ MEM 19-9-4
2008: L vs SAS 18-8-14
— nick wright (@getnickwright) April 30, 2017
That’s 22.4 points, 9.6 assists and 5.2 boards per game, with W’s at the Grindhouse, and at home against Kawhi/Popovich AND Steph and the Warriors.
“Doesn’t matter cuz he lost this year. And those two videos you posted don’t porve he has the clutch gene.”
He also did this.
“That was bad defense.”
He scored on TONY ALLEN!
How many active players besides LeBron have at least two playoff game-winners? Not a lot of guys have more than one for real. CP’s been clutch in the playoffs.
“If he was a G like that he wouldn’t have lost in the first round last year against Portland.”
You mean the year he broke his hand and missed the last two and a half games of the series? You’re gonna hold that against him?
“He still played in three full games.”
And he averaged over 26 points a game. Blake missed half that series too. He does that pretty often.
“Man, Blake ain’t the star. Chris is the star. The star gets the blame.”
What you have to understand about CP3 is while he is the star, he also happens to be a pass-first point guard by nature. For all his crunch time shortcomings, Blake is still the Clippers leading scorer every year. Griffin is also the Clippers’ second-best creator besides Paul. So when he’s out, all of the scoring and shot creation falls on CP to an insane degree because none of LA’s other major players (DeAndre & Redick) can create shots for themselves or anyone else (his New Orleans teams were built the same way).
“So what r u sayin?”
When you’re evaluating Paul in the playoffs, you basically have to throw out the last two years because he and Blake weren’t healthy.
“Bwhahahahahahaha!!!! You Chris Paul apologists are all the same! I swear this dude is teflon! You just can’t admit he’s to blame!”
Blame him for what? If you take the leading scorer off of any team, they won’t be the same. OKC lost their leading scorer from last year and went from a Finals contender to getting bounced in the first round in five games.
If LeBron’s career has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t go deep in the playoffs without good teammates, no matter how great you are. And Blake is a four-time All-NBA player.
“You just gonna blame it all on Paul’s teammates, huh?”
Here’s a fun game: Go back and look at his teammates, all the way back to New Orleans. The league has evolved into nothing but pace & space/three & D, right? Elite wing players have never been more valuable, yet the list of players Paul has been saddled with as starters on his Hornets and Clippers playoff teams would…make for a great bench unit.
New Orleans Hornets
2008: Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic
2009: Rasual Butler, Peja Stojakovic
2011: Marco Belinelli, Trevor Ariza
Los Angeles Clippers
2012: Randy Foye, Caron Butler
2013: Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler
2014: JJ Redick, Matt Barnes
2015: JJ Redick, Matt Barnes
2016: JJ Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute
2017: JJ Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute
Understand that Peja, Butler and Billups’ best years were long gone by the time they teamed up with Paul. Meanwhile Kyrie gets to play with LeBron. Westbrook got to play with Durant. Curry gets to play with Klay AND Durant. And consider who Paul-led teams have run up against in the playoffs on the wing: Manu, Melo, Kobe, Klay, Harden, CJ McCollum, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson…
“Forget all that. Chris Paul and Melo are the same dude. Put up great numbers in the regular season, but they don’t have what it takes to carry a team in the playoffs.”
Not exactly. The major difference between Paul and Carmelo Anthony is Paul has consistently made teammates better his entire career. But it would help if they could occasionally do for themselves.
“Yeah. That’s why he blew a 3-1 lead to the Rockets. LOL”
Again, he was playing that series on a bum leg. He missed two games, but still averaged 21 and 10. L.A. should’ve won the series, but sometimes improbable stuff happens in sports. You know, like when you’re up 3-2 with a 19-point second half lead at home with Harden on the bench, and Corey Brewer and Josh Smith (of all people) catch FIRE from three to lead an epic comeback?? Stuff like that.
“HUH??? You reaching, bruh.”
Not really. Sometimes an unknown receiver catches a football on his helmet in the final minute against an undefeated team in the Super Bowl. Sometimes a 42-1 underdog knocks out the undefeated heavyweight champ. Sometimes Jordan gets ripped by Nick Anderson with 10 seconds left in a conference finals game. Weird stuff happens in sports.
“FOH! Dude, Paul can’t LEAD a team! Even his former teammate called him out.”
What’s funny about CP slander is usually it’s not even slander. This criticism didn’t even make sense! Kenyon Martin contradicts himself by admitting nobody besides Crawford can create his own shot. Then he says Paul, “never gets the hockey assist.” The “hockey assist” is for the player two passes away from the scorer— Chris Paul has NO CONTROL over whether or not the second passer will give up his shot for a better shot by another teammate.
“What about this article? It clearly says Paul has to take some of the blame.”
Same thing. This piece is supposed to be critical of him, but the best they can say is he deserves “some blame”. This writer spends half the column lamenting CP (a pass-first PG) having a career-high of “just 43 points”, while somehow blaming Paul for his teammates screwing up in the clutch. Then he spends the other half saying the same stuff I’ve said in Paul’s defense.
“I thought Blake was ‘four-time All-NBA’. Lol”
He is, but he’s also the worst crunch time star in the NBA. Look at what he did (on both ends) in the fourth quarter of the infamous Rockets game (pg. 7) three years ago. Look at him in the fourth versus the Spurs two years ago.
“He can’t be that trash.”
Do a Twitter search for the words “Blake” or “Griffin” and “4th”, “clutch”, or “crunch time” and see what you find. If we’re gonna talk about CP as the new John Stockton, we gotta start talking about Blake as the new Karl Malone first. Between this and the injuries, he’s the most unreliable star player in the league.
“No matter what you say, Chris Paul blew that series against Oklahoma City based on what he did late in Game 5. Total meltdown!! “
You’re right. That was the worst moment of his career. That game and that series is on him. But that’s really the only instance where HE came up small in the playoffs. But he can’t have one black mark? Jordan got swept in the first round two years in a row. Kobe quit in Phoenix. LeBron tanked the 2011 Finals.
Interestingly, this was the same year the Donald Sterling scandal hit mid-playoffs. Not that that’s why Paul screwed up, but it just proves how lucky you have get to make a deep playoff run. That story was on CNN every night for two weeks! No way L.A. didn’t feel the effects.
When you add it up, yeah, it sounds like a bunch of excuses. But if you look at each situation individually, you see it’s really one of the more incredible bad luck streaks for a great player in NBA history. That’s the biggest reason Paul never made a conference final, which is a pretty arbitrary measurement of success anyway. How many conference finals appearances can you name for any other great player?
“I’m bout to go eat.”
Cool. Just know calling Chris Paul overrated simply because he can’t “carry a team to a conference finals” is lazy. Watch more games. You’ll appreciate him more.
And there you have it.
“Overrated” is a funny word. One who believes Michael Jordan is the second-greatest player ever to pick up a basketball would thereby believe MJ is overrated in the eyes of most. It’s about as relative of a term as you can find in sports punditry. Yet with Chris Paul, people are throwing the word around more liberally than ever before. Hopefully, you’re now a little better equipped to deal with a person who’s unfairly anti-Paul on Facebook or Twitter— the barbershop of the internet.