Suns’ Chris Paul is a Bonafide MVP Candidate for the Following Reasons

Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

It’s been 16 seasons since a Phoenix Suns player earned the NBA’s most illustrious individual honor—the MVP award. Despite failing to put up eye-popping numbers, Steve Nash won it most recently for the Suns during the 2005-06 season, with it being the second of two in a row for him.

Voters valued Phoenix’s success as a team that year and how Nash operated as a true floor general. But this year, another Suns point guard has a chance to take home the hardware under for similar reasons.

Why Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul deserves MVP consideration

Chris Paul may have been snubbed out of an All-Star starting spot last week, but the reigning  NBA Player of the Week is finally gaining at least some recognition for his efforts this year.

By any metric, CP3 is having a spectacular season for the Suns. He leads the league with 10.4 assists to go along with 14.9 points per game. He also boasts a +9.8 net rating, which is near the top of the league. His ability to kick his game up a notch during the clutch has been unrivaled as well.

The Suns also possess the NBA’s best record at 41-9, currently three games ahead any other team. Their latest win streak now stands at 11 games, the second double-digit string of victories which they have established this season.

To this point, this has been the best season in Suns history—and Chris Paul is at the center of it.

While NBA MVP voting often becomes subjective, some key patterns do exist which voters tend to move in accordance with. Perhaps the biggest predicator year-to-year is team success. Over the last 10 years, the MVP came from a top two seed in a conference all but twice, with the lone exceptions being Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic last year.

Even with lots of basketball still unplayed, the Suns represent a solid bet to remain a top two team in the West, if not a first place one. Before anything else, that puts Paul in good shape to earn the MVP nod.

But the Suns are not just some run-of-the-mill top seeded team either. Instead, they find themselves on a 67-win pace, a mark only matched or exceeded 13 other times in NBA history. Nine MVPs resulted from those 13 seasons—a good sign for Paul should the Suns maintain their torrid pace.

Individuals also take durability into account when casting their MVP vote. As seen on this graph from StatMuse, it is exceedingly rare for players to miss more than 10 games and still be in MVP contention, with most of those instances including shortened seasons.

Durability has always been a concern with Paul, but so far this year, he has not missed a single game. His availability has sustained Phoenix’s success, who have already been beset by various injuries during the course of the year. Key rotation players Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder, and Cameron Payne have all missed at least seven games. The Suns maintaining such a pristine record despite all those absentee players can be traced right back to their point guard.

Paul will face some stiff competition if he wants to take home his first MVP award, but with those voting patterns in mind, he will have a strong argument over all of them.

Jokic took home the award last year and has somehow followed that up with an even better season. But the Nuggets now find themselves laboring through an even tougher campaign. They currently hold the Western Conference’s sixth spot, while sitting a whopping 10.5 games behind the second seeded Warriors, and 13.5 back from the Suns. That represents a pretty monstrous divide in terms of team success.

Joel Embiid is having a spectacular season for the Philadelphia 76ers, as they sit just 1.5 games back from the Eastern Conference’s top spot. However, the oft-injured big man has already missed significant time this year, racking up 12 inactives. That puts him right on the border of what is considered disqualifying for MVP voting.

Then there’s the two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, currently putting together yet another excellent two-way season. He has missed 10 games though, and his Milwaukee Bucks sit in fourth place amidst a crowded Eastern Conference.

Stephen Curry’s prolonged slump and Kevin Durant’s extended injury absence will probably end up costing them their own chances at an MVP as well.

But still, it’s impossible to talk about Phoenix’s success this season without mentioning Devin Booker.

Book got off to a relatively slow start to his 2021-22 campaign, which can really hurt you in an MVP race, but he has been on fire as of late. If that continues he might move up the ladder into the discussion.

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Like Steve Nash before him, CP3 does not have stats that jump off the page at you. But like Nash, his impact on the Suns’ season goes unmatched, which might allow him to hoist that MVP trophy once the dust settles in May.