Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul No. 9 on MVP list? What a joke

Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports) /

Entering Friday’s game against top seed Utah, the Phoenix Suns have shocked the NBA community and can tie the Jazz with a victory.

No top-seeded team wants to admit they’re looking in the rearview mirror as the season winds down, but LeBron James is coming back – perhaps as soon as this weekend. Clearly, he’s an MVP candidate, even with his prolonged absence due to a high ankle sprain.

The Phoenix Suns have two legitimate MVP candidates, Devin Booker and, for now, the stronger of the two, Chris Paul.

There are quite a few players to pass, though, and Paul faces long odds to win the award. So how can Paul elevate his status into consideration for the NBA MVP award?

Here are three ways:

Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul and the MVP race: Secure the top spot

Clearly, the NBA MVP needs to lead a playoff team.

No less an authority on the subject than has a weekly MVP tracker. This past week, wrote:

“The NBA expanded to 16 teams for the 1984 playoffs, and since then there’s never been an MVP playing for a team that finished the regular season seeded seventh or lower in their conference, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

“Even when Russell Westbrook won MVP in 2017, Oklahoma City finished that season 11 games over .500 and earned the sixth seed for the postseason.”

So Chris Paul checks that box nicely. From a promising season in 2020, the Suns added Paul and became capable of a potentially NBA-best record in 2021. His leadership is the primary reason for the Suns’ success. (Booker is a very close second, as Suns fans well know.)

The Paul candidacy would be improved if Phoenix passes Utah and finishes as the NBA’s top team (by record) in the regular season.

Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul and the MVP race: Just look at the stats

Chris Paul’s influence was evident from the get-go this season. Teammates unanimously lauded his leadership and on-court execution.

During the ensuing few months, Paul has been the perfect complement to the Suns’ emotional, dynamic, mercurial and beloved young star, Devin Booker.

Now, Paul sits tied for third among the NBA’s assists leaders at 8.7 per game, and the Suns are among the elite in the NBA power rankings.

He is eighth in total steals this season, his quick hands and basketball instincts bringing his team multiple additional possessions.

He’s also eighth in Win Shares, ahead of Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic.

His .931 free-throw percentage ranks second in the NBA. That adds to his luster as a legit closer.

He went for 28 and 10 in the season’s biggest victory, Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The guy is great. And the numbers back it up.

Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul and the MVP race: Let’s rip the other candidates

OK, so Nikola Jokic is the recognized leader to this point – and there’s only a handful of games remaining.

It will be difficult to make a case against the Nuggets’ versatile big guy.

But … after that?

The list has Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka, Curry, Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron … and then – and No. 9 – Chris Paul?!!!

Not sure what the metrics are telling, but Lillard and Luka and Leonard haven’t lifted (see the alliteration there?) their respective franchises to the extent that Paul has lifted the Suns.

Has LeBron played enough games?

Has Curry’s team won enough – because of him?

And Paul brought the Suns a road win over Embiid’s Sixers just this month.



Not saying he’s the clear-cut winner, but Chris Paul is every bit a top-five candidate.


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