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NBA 75 Series: #33 Chris Paul

Updated: May 4, 2022

Ranked at #33 in my NBA 75 Greatest Players of All Time is one of the greatest “pure” point guards and fiercest competitors in NBA History, and a tremendous two-way player despite being just 6-feet tall, Chris Paul. Paul was born on May 6th, 1985, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to his mother, Robin Jones, and father, Charles Paul Sr.

Paul grew up in Lewisville with his older brother CJ Paul, and was nicknamed “CP3” because he, his brother, and father all shared the same initials. His father taught him football and basketball as a youth, and excelled at both, playing in many youth leagues. Paul would end up choosing to stick to basketball despite being just five feet tall upon his arrival at West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, North Carolina.

His first two years he would play for the junior varsity (JV) team, but with the help of a growth spurt, Paul made the varsity team as a junior where he averaged 25 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.4 steals per game, helping West Forsyth reach the state semifinals. The summer before his senior season he helped lead the Kappa Magic, a Winston-Salem based AAU team, to the National U-17 title where he would earn MVP honors in the process.

Paul would carry over that momentum into his senior year, where he started to receive national attention with averages of 30.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 6 steals per game, leading West Forsyth to a 27–3 record and the Class 4A Eastern Regional finals. He would also honor his grandfather, who was tragically murdered at the age of 61, and would score 61 points for his old man.

Paul’s high school career would result in him being named North Carolina Mr. Basketball, Jordan Brand Classic member, a 2003 McDonald's All-American along with his contemporary, and friend, LeBron James, and first-team Parade All-American.

He would eventually commit to play his college basketball for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, where in his freshman season he averaged 14.8 points, 5.9 assists, and 2.7 steals per game, setting school freshman records in steals, assists, and numerous other categories. Due to Paul’s magnificent play, the Deacons qualified for the NCAA Tournament where they would lose to St. Josephs in the Sweet Sixteen.

Paul would go on to be named ACC Rookie of the Year and third-team All-ACC. He would return for his sophomore year, finishing with averages of 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. He was named a first team consensus All-American in 2005 despite having his reputation tainted due to punching NC state guard Julius Hodge’s groin, which resulted in a one-game suspension. Years later, Paul got his jersey retired by Wake Forest.

He would go on to be selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets (now New Orleans Pelicans), behind names such as Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, and Deron Williams, having a better career then all of them combined. Paul went on to win the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award with averages of 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, getting it done on both ends of the court, and falling one vote short of taking the award unanimously, with Deron Williams receiving one first-place vote.

Paul would eventually become the “Point God”, being one of the best point guards to ever touch a basketball period. From the moment he came in the league in 2005, he wowed us with his IQ for the game, slick handles, absurd playmaking ability, elite defense, and ability to take over a game with his scoring when his team needed him to. He was an amazing finisher at the rim, despite his small 6-foot frame, and a master in the mid-range game.

He sadly didn’t get past the second round until 2018 with Harden and the Rockets, never making it on the Hornets and Clippers. He had a slew of injuries in the postseason throughout his career, one being the 2015 series against the Rockets where they blew a 3-1 lead, Paul missed the first two games with a hamstring injury. Another being the 2016 first round series against the Portland Trail Blazers , where he suffered a broken hand injury that would cost him the final two games and the Clippers the series.

But, the biggest one of all might have come in the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the juggernaut Warriors with Steph, KD, Klay, and Draymond, where Paul hurt his hamstring in Game 5 in Houston. With the Rockets up 3-2 in the series heading into Game 6, and without Paul, they couldn’t dethrone the Warriors, which could have been his best shot at a ring.

Paul would then leave the Rockets to join the Thunder for a year and regain his stardom and respect around the league, helping lead a Thunder team to the playoffs that had no business being there. He’s now on the Phoenix Suns with young stars Devin Booker & Deandre Ayton, where they reached the 2021 NBA Finals, but came up short in six games to the Giannis-led Bucks.

Despite his lack of a ring, Paul is one of six players in NBA history to record over 10,000 career assists. He also has the most consecutive games with a steal (109), is the only player to have a 20 points, 20 assists with no turnovers, and is the only player to lead league in assists and steals per game, which he has done three times!

Paul is an 11-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP (2013), 10-time All-NBA selection, nine-time All-Defensive selection, led the league in assists four times (2008, 2009, 2014-15), steals six times (2008-09, 2011-14), and was the 2006 ROTY. He has helped show what a true elite point guard is in the 21st century, and was the best point guard after the Kidd-Nash era and before Curry took over the league. He is aging gracefully and is the “Point God!”

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