Part 5 of a series on Chris Paul. What makes him such a special player? He has unbelievable ball handling skills. The reason Chris Paul can get where he wants on a basketball court is because the ball always gets there with him, which is not as easy as he makes it look.
As part of the ad campaign for Jordan Brand's new CP3 VI shoe I've been asked to write a series of posts on Chris Paul. This is an assignment I am happy to do.
Because Chris Paul is so good at all of the other aspects of playing basketball, and so extraordinarily unselfish, we often overlook something about him: he's a terrific scorer. We don't think of him as a scorer mostly because he doesn't shoot enough to be thought of that way, but he did average almost 20 points per game last season, and averaged almost 23 points per game in 2008-2009 with New Orleans.
What's amazing about Paul is that he manages to score in such an efficient manner, which is much more difficult for a guard than it is for a center. Paul's career true shooting percentage (TSP, which takes into account three pointers and free throws for a more complete measure of scoring efficiency) is an outstanding .573 and he was even better than that in his first season in L.A. at .581. Compare that to some of the players who are considered his closest rivals for best point guard in the NBA like Deron Williams and Derrick Rose: Williams' career TSP is .556, Rose's is .534.
People don't generally think of Paul as being an outstanding three point shooter, yet he's at 36 percent for his career and close to 39 percent over the last three seasons. He may very well be the best three point shooter on the Clippers this season.
More than just shooting though, he knows how to get scores. Whether it's eluding blocked shots to finish on drives to the basket, or floaters in the lane, he has the uncanny ability to get his shot off despite invariably being the smallest of the 10 men on the court. He also draws a lot of fouls, and shoots better than 85 percent from the line when he gets there.
Last season's Clippers frequently struggled early in games, in large part because Paul is too unselfish. It's not unusual for Paul to go three quarters of a basketball game while taking just one or two shots from the field. He does this both to conserve his energy and to get his teammates involved, not to mention that it is simply his nature to pass rather than to shoot. Unfortunately for the Clippers, Paul was one of relatively few good offensive options for the team last season, and when he wasn't scoring points could be very difficult to come by. Fortunately though, in the fourth quarter his attitude tended to change. With the game on the line, Paul becomes much more aggressive offensively, and as a result he was among the top fourth quarter scorers in the league. He led the Clippers to many fourth quarter comebacks last season on the strength of his scoring.
Paul is a great NBA point guard in part because he is so unselfish -- but for the Clippers it would often be better if Paul were a little more selfish because he is such a good scorer.