Remember Cars? Yesterday was the film’s 15-year anniversary. In the 2006 movie, after a full season of third-place finishes, a racer — Chick Hicks — is requested to compete with the highest two racers for a probability to win the championship. That’s a plot gap that has bugged me for the final fifteen years. Why on Earth would somebody who constantly misplaced be handled the identical manner as those who beat all of them season lengthy?
Chris Paul is the Chick Hicks of the NBA. Paul is a man whose groups have constantly underperformed within the playoffs. He’s by no means won a championship. He’s by no means even had a Finals look, but nonetheless, many of the NBA world considers Chris Paul one of many true “winners” within the league.
“He wins games,” they mutter.
“Look at where the Suns and Thunder were before he arrived compared to what they accomplished with him!” they shout from the mountaintops.
“His value can’t be explained with stats! He adds more than a box score could indicate!” they scream on the prime of their lungs.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard all of it. I’ve watched his video games. I prefer to suppose I do know what he brings to the desk when he fits up. And the reply is…a lot — a entire hell of a lot in reality. Chris Paul was (and nonetheless is) extremely helpful for each group he’s performed for. He’s had a outstanding and illustrious profession, however he is not a winner.
Okay, so what determines a winner? Do it’s a must to win a championship? No. I wouldn’t go that far, however it’s a must to not less than be able to profitable a championship because the face of your franchise. That’s what I name a winner. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, and Luka Dončić are all gamers who’ve proven sufficient that — with the best items supporting them — because the face of their respective franchises to win a title with them on the reins. Throughout his 16-year profession, Chris Paul has by no means been that. More usually than not, he’s been the supporting piece propping up different gamers. He’s solely been the face of his franchise with the Hornets and Thunder (possibly the Suns too, however I’ll get again to that later). Paul by no means made it previous the second spherical with that first group. He didn’t survive the primary spherical in his lone season with the second group, however that group actually didn’t assist Paul in any respect.
The occasions when Paul has taken a again seat to different elite gamers have been the occasions his groups have been constantly stable. When Blake Griffin was the face of the Clippers with Chris Paul taking part in the position of distributor, the Clippers had been championship contenders — even when they choked within the playoffs yearly with out fail. When Paul performed the position of distributor for James Harden in Houston, the Rockets turned the largest risk to the Golden State Warriors dynasty since Oklahoma City. Now with the Phoenix Suns, Paul has taken a again seat because the distributor for Devin Booker, and Paul’s group is formidable as soon as once more.
You may argue that Paul is the face of the franchise, however I’d argue that position has been pressured upon him due to his legacy reasonably than due to how the Phoenix Suns function. The narrative surrounding Paul is that he is a nice participant, first-ballot Hall of Famer, however has by no means won a title, and that’s unlucky. It is. Paul has been an elite participant for just about his whole profession and the truth that he’s by no means had the chance to play on the sport’s greatest stage is a crying disgrace.
After the Suns went 9-0 within the bubble final yr, Phoenix already had a ton of hype heading into the 2021 season. Throw CP3 into the combo? Now, we’re speaking. This is a championship-caliber group. We noticed how Paul turned OKC round in a single season. Imagine what he’ll deliver to the Suns. Never thoughts that Booker bettered his subject purpose share and factors per recreation every of his first 5 seasons within the league. This is Paul’s group now. Until he wins a championship, this is Paul’s group.
I’m not denying that Paul’s affect has been substantial and significant. I’m simply mentioning that it’s Devin Booker’s unbelievable scoring capability that places Phoenix within the “championship contender” class, and that’s what makes Booker the face of the Suns.
Chris Paul is a incredible participant, and I’ve liked watching him this yr. Despite his age, he continues to outperform the younger stars and assist his groups exceed expectations. However, Paul has not confirmed that he can carry a group to a championship, which must be the purpose for any participant with as lengthy a resume as Paul’s. When his profession ends Paul might, sadly, go down as this technology’s John Stockton — somebody who was all the time nice however regardless of the expertise round him was by no means nice sufficient to compete with one of the best groups within the league. Hopefully this yr’s Suns squad can change that. If they win the Larry O’Brien trophy this yr, I’d be blissful to publish a full-length apology whereas I waddle residence with my head tucked between my legs and egg on my face. I actually hope Paul’s Suns win the title. That being stated, when the Suns attain the Western Conference Finals… Clippers in 6.