The point guard is the most important position in basketball, and with a good reason. The sole construct of the offense depends on him, making him responsible for getting everyone on the team going and taking the tool of scoring themselves. So to be able to play that position successfully, especially in the NBA, you have to possess a wide array of skills.
Sure some point guards rely on long-distance shooting, others on their athleticism and slashing, while others play traditionally, focusing solely on getting others their shots. But none of those attributes will make you a good point guard if you don't possess a high basketball IQ. No matter how much athleticism and skill with the ball look like the central part of the game, basketball is a game that requires you to think and read everything happening on the court.
That is precisely what made Chris Paul one of the most intelligent basketball players ever, as almost all of his peers would agree with that statement. CP3 is a fantastic talent with a steady handle, impeccable court vision, and a knack to score the ball, especially from the mid-range. Still, the fact he can read the game better than anyone and use every tiny detail to his advantage made him elite.
Fellow point guard and NBA superstar Damian Lillard knows all about that, as he faced CP3 numerous times in the Western Conference. While talking on JJ Reddick's podcast "The Old Man and the Three," Dame spoke about how learning the plays, reading the game, and watching other games helped him get to another level and dominate. That is where he drew a line with Chris and explained why he has been able to be so good for so long:
"Now it makes more sense to me how Chris Paul has been so good for so long because all he does is manipulate everything to take advantage of something that he saw...not just with the defense and the offense, but with the referees, with everything. That type of stuff is, like when you start figuring that stuff out, man, the game becomes so much easier. And it seems so much slower.
Damian Lillard, via The Old Man and the Three
The host and Paul's former teammate with the Clippers, JJ Reddick, confirmed that, as he had the chance to see CP3 in action every night for a couple of years:
"Having been Chris's teammate, that dude tries to manipulate every play. Like he's looking for a competitive edge on every single play."
JJ Redick, via Old Man and the Three
The determination and sheer will to take the time to watch games, learn plays from opposing players and study the tendencies is admirable, as the fact CP3 can manipulate the game and be one step ahead of everybody on the court is no coincidence. To go along with that, Paul is always looking for the slightest chance to show the referees a missed call or situation that would benefit his team.
Just look at this example of Chris Paul signaling to the referees that Jordan Bell's jersey is untucked, causing them to call a technical for the delay of the game. Considering it was a two-point game with one second left, that proved to be crucial, as the Thunder pulled away an overtime victory in the end. Just one of many examples in which CP3 used the smallest detail to win his team a game.
Hopefully, this will be the year his status as someone that chokes in the playoffs disappears, as his Phoenix Suns have a great chance of going all the way. He won't be in the lineup tonight versus the Clippers due to Covid Protocols, but as soon he gets back on the court, the Clippers will have a heck of a task beating the red-hot Suns.
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