Meet the point god, Chris Paul. Paul is arguably–emphasis on arguably–the best point guard in the NBA. There is nothing that slips Paul’s eye. It seems like he has them in the back of his head, coming out of his ears, and on the palms of his hands because he knows where he’s throwing that ball and where its going. He just makes it look that easy.
In only 11 games so far in the season, Paul is only averaging two turnovers per game. Why is that such an anomaly to me? Because of how much Paul dominates the ball. 2 turnovers are his a career low for, but the astounding thing about Paul is that he’s never gotten more than 3 per game according to basketball reference. The ball security of Chris Paul is on another level; compared to many other point guards he is the most secure ball handler in the NBA. In 7 games this season he’s recorded two or less turnovers. When facing the Miami Heat Paul didn’t record his first turnover until overtime.
Watch here as the Clips force a turnover. Paul takes the ball and does magic with it leading to an alley oop by Deandre Jordan.
Of course the turnover helped here, but watch Paul’s ball security. Even in transition he is moving at a slower pace. The ball is not being forced up the floor and that’s how he likes to play. Taking his time is key to not turning the ball over. Next, pay attention to how Chris knew where Deandre was going to be at even through the trap. You can never play with your head or arms down with Chris Paul and that was a mistake that the Rockets made. Even if Paul puts his head down for a split second you must know that he is still watching.
That second was all Paul needed to give Deandre the perfect pass placement for that spectacular alley oop. Going slow is what Chris Paul does best. He’s turned the Clippers into Pick City and not Lob City in my opinion. Chris Paul has never led a team with a pace of over 95; there is a reason for that. He doesn’t turn it up because he doesn’t turn it over. That’s the main key to his game. Even the Los Angeles Clippers move at a slow pace this season. They have a more half-court style–because of Chris Paul–even though they have many full-court runners. Right now they are 20th in pace in the NBA at 90.8.
Paul’s dribble is one that you can’t time; it goes so slow but yet he can speed it up and control it at any time. That’s how he keeps the game at his slow-paced tempo more often than not. He can handle the speed of a fast pace game but that usually results in a higher turnover rate. Paul’s turnover rate has never gone above 14 in his career, in facts the highest he’s ever had was 13.9. The turnover rate, for those who don’t know, is an advanced statistic that determines how many turnovers you would have per 100 possessions. That means that the rest of the possessions are either assists or scores by Paul.
When you think about Paul, you think of the best point guard in the half court in the NBA. There is nothing he can’t do or see; this is why when he isolates it’s so dangerous. He can find the smallest crease in the defense. If someone is cutting or there is enough space for him to get through it, he will do it. His fundamentals.
His favorite area is the middle of the floor just above the key. He likes to isolate right there so he can have the perfect view of the whole floor; this is where the Clippers go to–and what the Hornets used to do–in the clutch. Normally iso ball is not a good thing, but Paul is so effective at giving a pass without turning it over that you can use isolations with a player like him.
We’ll break down a few scenes from the playoffs last season. First let’s go to this Andrew Bynum Isolation.
As you can see, the Hornets ran a PnR and got a switch with Bynum having to guard Paul. He makes it tough on bigs because they have to respect his dribble. Paul will put a player on skates if he’s not careful(as you can see from the video). After getting the switch it turned into an isolation for that reason specifically. You can’t double Paul here because he’ll always find the open man; there was no movement off the ball but you never know when there will be a cutter slashing to the basket.
Also, notice how there were guys ready to spot up on the left in case someone came from the weak side to help. Paul will know who’s man that was instantly and find the shooter for a 3. There was also players on both sides of the floor for Paul. Spacing here was key not only because Paul needed room to work, but because that helps Paul see the whole floor. When someone comes for help he can easily kick the ball.
Here is another video vs the Lakers in the playoffs last season via NBA Playbook.
In this video Kobe Bryant switches on to Chris Paul off of the PnR. Chris can’t really get by Kobe right here because he played excellent defense on Paul. Kobe’s length really bothered Paul here and his lateral quickness was a plus too. Kobe did his job right here. If you watch closely, the Lakers lost the game as soon as Paul received the pick. The proper spacing by the Hornets killed them and Paul knew it the whole way.
Ron Artest was ready to collapse on Paul if he drove the ball and that’s normally the right decision. He did a good job of doing that but timed it just one second off. He waited until Paul was about to go into his shooting motion and he came over to try to give a contest. That contest was a good one because Paul was already starting his jumper. The IQ of Jarrett Jack played a great impact though because he slides over to come to give Paul a better outlet to kick the ball. That’s an excellent play on his part because he knows Paul will see him. He catches, shoots, and the rest is history.
Chris Paul is the best point guard in the half court game. This is because of his skill of handling the ball and ultimate court vision. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started to perform at an MVP level when he gets back into shape. He has a lot of toys to play with in LA.
-Michael D. Sykes, II