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Opinion

Chris Paul is a top-five MVP candidate

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Roar Rookie
16th April, 2020
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For any most valuable player (MVP) debate we first need to establish that it is not necessarily the most skilful nor the most talented player of that season.

It is about those who have been the most impactful on their team’s success. It has been this way since the award was created and was why Wilt Chamberlain’s 50-point average season did not win him MVP over Bill Russell in 1963. Therefore, my argument is not Chris Paul was a top-five player this year, rather he is one of the top five most valuable players for his team this season.

Paul landed on the Oklahoma City Thunder due to a massive trade with Russell Westbrook, which saw Paul and two first-rounders go to OKC for Westbrook and some pick swaps. After this trade many saw OKC slipping dramatically and going into a rebuild state with bookies having their season (O/U) wins at 32.5 wins.

However, a thrown-together in OKC team lead by Paul with a supporting cast of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder has battled to an impressive fifth seed in the West, in which Paul needs to receive a lot of credit for.

When looking at Paul’s raw basic statistics, 18 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists shooting 49 per cent from the field is good but far from elite numbers other players such as James Harden are putting up (34 p, 6r, 7a).

However, watching OKC games you can see his leadership even without the ball. With a usage rate percentage less than his teammates of SGI, Schroder and Gallinari, he still makes a tremendous impact on both ends from setting up the defence to still creating midrange shots for himself on the offensive end, shooting 53 per cent from the midrange.

Not only can Paul create shots for others, he also creates shots for himself anywhere he likes from half-court – he is efficient in doing so with a true shooting percentage of 60.9 ranking him second in the league among point guards. Paul also has the highest +/- of anyone who has played over 1000 minutes with +13.4 points per 100 possessions when Paul is on the court.

My final point on why Chris Paul is a top-five MVP candidate is he is simply clutch and is recording one of the most clutch statistical seasons since those stats were first recorded in 1996. The Thunder are 29-13 in clutch games which is largely of Paul’s late-game dominance. He leads the league in clutch points and steals with 146 and ten, respectively.

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As many players’ shooting percentages drop in the late game Paul’s doesn’t, his true shooting percentage rises to an impressive 67.8 which is third-highest since 1996 in clutch moments. He only slightly trails Terry Rozier’s 2019-20 season and Mehmet Okur’s 2006-07 season. What is even more astonishing is out of the 146 clutch points scored, 132 points have come unassisted, meaning he is able to create late-game shots for himself still at an extremely high percentage.

Not only can he score when on offence in clutch situations with ease, but you will also often see him taking the best opponent on defence even if that player is a 204 cm Jason Tatum. In a March 9 match-up between Boston and OKC 13 seconds left, OKC down a point the point god himself trapped Kemba Walker, allowing for the easy steal ad lay-up by Schroder.

With OKC now up by one an iso was placed on Tatum versus Paul, Tatum couldn’t get past Paul and was forced into a tough midrange which bricked out and OKC won the game.

Yes, Paul hasn’t put up the points and assists like in previous seasons but he has brought an OKC team with no fellow all-stars to the fifth seed in the West and developed a genuine playoff team, which is why he is a top-five most valuable player contender.

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