Phoenix Suns postseason push impact players: Chris Paul
1. Chris Paul. While some critics complained about the price tag, including Paul’s cap hit, the early returns illustrate why Suns General Manager James Jones and coach Monty Williams were so high on the All-Star point guard.
Ricky Rubio was a nice bridge who showed how a strong and steady playmaker could lift the young Suns into contention. But Paul is special.
He’s a 10-time NBA All-Star, a nine-time member of the All-Defense team, a six-time steals champ, a four-time assists champ and an All-Star Game MVP.
A championship is about all that’s left on his to-do list and, at 35 (he turns 36 in May), he believes the Suns have a real chance to become contenders quickly.
His mentoring and on-court leadership already have been key ingredients to the early success, but there’s more to give.
Paul is shooting only 40.7 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent from 3-point range this season. His career numbers — 47 percent overall from the field including 37 percent from three — indicate dramatic room for improvement. He’s played five minutes fewer per game and his assists per game are down 1.2 assists from his career average of 9.5.
If (when?) the Suns begin postseason play, they will continue to leverage Paul’s influence. The 6-1, 175-pound leader has 109 career playoff games in tow, with per-game averages of 20.9 points, 8.3 assists and 2.1 steals in those pressure matchups.
While Paul’s presence is technically an intangible, his worth will be measured in victories.
It’s going to get better.