FanShot

Chris Paul flipped the Clippers' script

4

By Jordan Heimer With Paul at the helm, the Clippers have had a historic season. They've sold out every home game, and lead the league in road attendance. Blake Griffin and Paul became the first two Clippers to start an All-Star Game. Their .607 winning percentage, best in franchise history, has them a mere half-game behind the Lakers in the race for the Pacific Division title they've never captured. You can make a strong case for Paul's MVP candidacy with numbers alone, particularly if you look at the advanced stats. He trails only LeBron James in pace-adjusted PER, Win Shares, and 82games.com's cumulative "Simple Rating." He leads the league in steals and is third in assists. Last year the Clippers led the league in turnovers; this year they have the third fewest. In other words, he has had an amazing season. But although it's the hoariest cliché in the MVP-debate column template, numbers alone can't measure Paul's value to the Clippers. The Heat would still be a top-4 team in the East without LeBron James; remove Paul from the Clippers, and they'd be the Kings. Or, more accurately, they'd be last year's Clippers. Three though 12, the roster is an ill-fitting assortment of streaky gunners, one-dimensional role players, and DeAndre Jordan -- an arguably overpaid "defensive specialist" routinely manhandled by the league's elite big men. Although the preseason hope was that Paul and Griffin would morph into a high-flying John Stockton/Karl Malone with baggier shorts, they've struggled to develop on-court chemistry. Actually, it's hard to think of an elite power forward who would benefit less from Paul's halfcourt mastery than Griffin, who doesn't roll hard to the basket and has difficulty consistently making a midrange jumper off the pick-and-pop. (Imagine, for instance, what Chris Bosh could do with five wide-open looks from the elbow each game).

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