When a kid watches a barely 6ft Chris Paul dominate a game made for giants, they get this intrinsically warm feeling that they too can be anything they set their mind to. But until another Chris Paul comes - if another Chris Paul comes - that kid is mistakenly wrong. Because CP3 becoming the first player with three 17 + win streaks (Clippers in ’13, Rockets in ’18, and Suns in ‘22) is only one of many metrics that prove he is a once in 75-year player and counting.
Am I saying he is as great as Magic and Curry? Of course not. What about Isiah Thomas? Probably not too. But statistically speaking, Paul is easily the best 17th-year point guard ever, and it’s not even close. Just see how his game today stacks up with all the great point guards.
Greatest Point Guards and their 17th seasons:
- Chris Paul’s year 17th year - 14.6 ppg, 10.1 APG, 4 RPG
- John Stockton’s 17th year - 11.5 PPG, 8.7 APG, 2.8 RPG
- Jason Kidd’s 17th year - 9 PPG, 8,7 APG, 6.2 RPG
- Steve Nash’s 17th year - 12.7 PPG, 6.7 APG, 2.8 RPG
- Oscar Robertson’s 17th year -DNP
- Magic Johnson’s 34-year old statistics - DNP
- Isiah Thomas’s 34-year old statistics - DNP
Chris Paul also holds the honors for the best 34-year old point guard season ever: 17.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.0 RPG for where he came 7th in MVP voting, 12 years after coming second in ’08. If Chris Paul receives All-Star nods this season, which he will most likely achieve with Phoenix’s record, he will pass Jerry West and tie Karl Malone for a 14-year gap between first and last year nominations - and Malone was 6ft 9in and weighed 259lb of pure muscle. You can’t make this stuff up.
The reason his height plays such a factor is that small guards get banged up easily and rely heavily on their speed. If you lose a third of a step - you can drop from perennial All-Star to out of a job. Just ask Isaiah Thomas and Kemba Walker. But the sole reason we don’t talk about Chris Paul like we do with his true contemporaries boils down to one thing. No rings.
We throw Chris Paul in a box of great players who could never get over the hump. But that’s fine. The uncharacteristic turnovers in Game 4 of last season’s Finals still flash in my brain when they choked that 2-0 lead. The ’14 series against Thunder when he had those two inexcusable turnovers makes those flashes seem even less uncharacteristic-like. But is that as bad as his franchise-altering mere presence is good? I don’t think so.
Like LeBron James, CP3’s consistency is his greatest weapon. It’s what people thirty years will point at when they review his astonishingly long Basketball Reference page. The fact that he flips teams around when signing there, and they collapse when he’s gone tells you all you need to know.
We know he is a legend but do we really understand how great he is? Why is it not common knowledge that Paul is infinitely greater than someone like Iverson? Maybe I’m delusional, but I don’t think CP3 is appreciated enough on an all-time scale because there he doesn’t have that one moment we can point to and say, ‘I’ll tell my grandkids that I watched that guy today.’ There are only 17 years of him trying to make one at a historic rate.