Playing the "What if ..." Game with Chris Paul
The jubilatory hugs and handshakes for Chris Paul have been years in the making.
He has accomplished a lot during his illustrious career.
But what the 36-year-old “Point God” has done this year in Phoenix?
If this will be one of his last seasons playing, this is the ultimate mic drop moment he’s giving us.
Paul has done the seemingly undoable in leading a young Phoenix Suns team to the NBA Finals.
It serves as a reminder of how successful Paul has been with every team he has played for.
Of the four teams Paul suited up for prior to arriving in Phoenix, they averaged 8.3 more wins in Paul’s first year compared to what they did the previous year when he wasn’t on the team.
The Suns finished this season with an impressive 51-21 record, which was 17 more wins than they had last year.
When you look at a career that includes 11 All-Star appearances, nine All-NBA first or second-team selections, nine All-NBA Defensive first or second-team selections, a four-time league leader in assists, and a six-time NBA leader in steals … he’s a no-brainer for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame when he decides to call it a career.
And while NBA players don’t have to pledge any kind of allegiance to a specific team they played for when going into the Hall of Fame, it does make for an interesting “what if …” question when it comes to Paul who has played for five different teams.
If Paul had to represent any specific team that he has played for, what team would that be?
I reached out to the people via Twitter with a poll just to see which team they felt should get the CP3 seal of approval upon entering the Hall of Fame.
The overwhelming winner was Phoenix which is where I and the Twittersphere are aligned at the hip.
Chris Paul has respect, accolades, and cheddar out the wazoo (he’s made more than $295 million in his career, and has an option to be paid another $44.2 million next season according to Spotrac.
Paul was a top-5 league MVP candidate this season as he powered the Suns to one of the franchises’ greatest single-season turnarounds ever.
In addition to averaging 16.2 points, 8.9 assists, and 4.5 rebounds, Paul came close to the rare trifecta of shooting 50 percent from the field (he shot 49.9 percent), 40 percent from 3-point range (he shot 39.5 percent on 3’s), and 90 percent from the free-throw line (he made 93.4 percent of his free throws).
He doesn’t need a championship to go down as one of the greatest to ever play this game.
A championship redefines him as more than just a successful player at the highest level, but a champion who has achieved the pinnacle of team success in the NBA.
That’s why Phoenix more than any other franchise Paul has played for, should be the one that he shows the most love to.
He spent more time with the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (six seasons apiece) than any other franchise, so the affinity he has for those two cities and organizations is understandable.
Paul didn’t spend enough time or make a deep enough playoff run with the Oklahoma City Thunder (one season) or Houston Rockets (two seasons) to seriously consider them anything other than a mile marker on his road to basketball greatness.
The Hall of Fame is about one’s legacy. And as talented as Paul was in Los Angeles and New Orleans, the legacy he left in both cities was a mix of ill-timed injuries and unfulfilled expectations.
But in Phoenix, Paul now finds himself four wins away from changing the course of the Suns’ history as well as the narrative for his own Hall-of-Fame career.