2012-2013 Clipper Player Previews: Chris Paul

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

For three weeks this preseason, we'll be publishing Player Previews for each of the 15 players currently under contract with the Clippers. In some cases there may not be much difference from last season's Exit Interviews, but the team does have seven new faces, and there were some significant developments over the off-season for some of the returning players as well, so let's get caught up with all of them before the season starts. Today's edition, All-NBA first team and All-Star starting point guard, Chris Paul.

Chris Paul career stats (7 seasons)

PPG

APG

SPG

RPG

PER

18.8

9.8

2.4

4.4

25.4

Today, we wrap up our Player Preview series with the best player in Clippers history- Chris Paul. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Willie Green, and how tough he was to place. Bench warmer or starter? With this CP3 guy, there's no question. He's the best point guard in the NBA (yes, even better than Ramon Sessions), and he has to be in any conversation about the best player in the league. He's just that good, and that prominent.

Paul arrived in Los Angeles last winter before the lockout shortened season, heading over in a trade from New Orleans in exchange for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Minnesota's unprotected first round pick (Austin Rivers). The deal was, and still is, a no-brainer. When the trade went through, Paul promised to pick up his option to stay an extra year, which is this year, the 2012-2013 season. And after this season, he will be a free agent. Unrestricted. Free to choose any team. Now, realistically, out of the 30 teams in the NBA, only a handful will have the space to sign Chris. And none of them will be able to offer nearly the contract that the Clippers can. And none of them will have anywhere near the supporting cast that lies in Los Angeles with fellow All-Star starter Blake Griffin.

But right now, the focus for Paul, Griffin, and the rest of the team is winning a championship this year. And Chris Paul's role in that could not be more obvious- he's the point guard, the captain, the leader, the closer. Despite Blake Griffin's athletic brilliance, Paul is quite possibly the only player who the team could not go without on a given night.

After a standout 2-year career at Wake Forest, Paul was picked 4th overall by the Hornets, and made an immediate mark on the league, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2006. Chris obviously peaked in 2009, when he averaged 22.8 points, 11 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 steals a night. After a major injury, Paul isn't the player he used to be athletically, but he's just as skilled and just as smart as he used to be.

What sets Paul apart from the other star point guards in the league? It's a subtle difference sometimes, but what he does offensively is similar to what we see from Steve Nash- the seal move. Once he beats his man, with or without a screen, Paul uses his hips to seal off his defender, effectively reducing the play and giving himself a moment of a man advantage. Now that the defense is a man down, Paul just has to do what he does best- see the floor, and make the best decision available. Lob for a dunk, bounce pass to a cutter, kickout to a shooter, or a pull up for himself, it's irrelevant. The play is over once Paul makes his seal and opens his window.

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