Keep in mind Automobiles? Yesterday was the film’s 15-year anniversary. Within 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 an opportunity 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 means 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 received a championship. He’s by no means even had a Finals look, but nonetheless, a lot of the NBA world considers Chris Paul one of many true “winners” within the league.
“He wins video games,” they mutter.
“Have a look at the place the Suns and Thunder had been earlier than he arrived in comparison with what they completed with him!” they shout from the mountaintops.
“His worth can’t be defined with stats! He provides greater than a field rating may point out!” they scream on the high 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…loads — an entire hell of loads the truth is. Chris Paul was (and nonetheless is) extremely helpful for each crew he’s performed for. He’s had a exceptional and illustrious profession, however he’s not a winner.
Okay, so what determines a winner? Do you need to win a championship? No. I wouldn’t go that far, however you need 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. All through his 16-year profession, Chris Paul has by no means been that. Most of the time, 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 crew. He didn’t survive the primary spherical in his lone season with the second crew, however that crew definitely didn’t assist Paul in any respect.
The instances when Paul has taken a again seat to different elite gamers have been the instances his groups have been constantly strong. When Blake Griffin was the face of the Clippers with Chris Paul taking part in the function of distributor, the Clippers had been championship contenders — even when they choked within the playoffs yearly with out fail. When Paul performed the function of distributor for James Harden in Houston, the Rockets turned the most important menace to the Golden State Warriors dynasty since Oklahoma Metropolis. Now with the Phoenix Suns, Paul has taken a again seat because the distributor for Devin Booker, and Paul’s crew is formidable as soon as once more.
You might argue that Paul is the face of the franchise, however I might argue that function has been pressured upon him due to his legacy slightly than due to how the Phoenix Suns function. The narrative surrounding Paul is that he’s a fantastic participant, first-ballot Corridor of Famer, however has by no means received a title, and that’s unlucky. It’s. Paul has been an elite participant for just about his complete 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 12 months, Phoenix already had a ton of hype heading into the 2021 season. Throw CP3 into the combination? Now, we’re speaking. This can be a championship-caliber crew. We noticed how Paul turned OKC round in a single season. Think about what he’ll convey to the Suns. By no means thoughts that Booker bettered his subject aim share and factors per sport every of his first 5 seasons within the league. That is Paul’s crew now. Till he wins a championship, that is Paul’s crew.
I’m not denying that Paul’s impression has been substantial and significant. I’m simply declaring 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 unbelievable participant, and I’ve liked watching him this 12 months. Regardless of his age, he continues to outperform the younger stars and assist his groups exceed expectations. Nonetheless, Paul has not confirmed that he can carry a crew to a championship, which ought to be the aim for any participant with as lengthy a resume as Paul’s. When his profession ends Paul could, sadly, go down as this era’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 12 months’s Suns squad can change that. In the event that they win the Larry O’Brien trophy this 12 months, I’d be pleased to submit a full-length apology whereas I waddle dwelling with my head tucked between my legs and egg on my face. I actually hope Paul’s Suns win the title. That being mentioned, when the Suns attain the Western Convention Finals… Clippers in 6.