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Midseason Roundtable Grades: Chris Paul

Chris Paul remains the Clippers’ best player as he ages into his 30s, and is still one of the top players in the NBA. Our writers’ grades were accordingly high.

NBA: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Flom: A

Chris Paul has been the best player on the Clippers this season, as he has been since he arrived in 2011. While his numbers are a little down since his blazing hot start to the season, this is still one of the best years of his career— at age 31, and with many seasons of heavy minutes behind him. He is averaging career highs in rebounds and steals per 36 minutes, and is taking and making more three pointers than he ever has before. This has led to a career high in True Shooting %, a sign that Paul’s game may not lose efficiency with age. Yes, he’s been injured for much of the season, but that doesn’t take away from his numbers (it is the reason he isn’t awarded an A+, though). He’s a marvel on the basketball court, still the most well-rounded point guard in the league. With any luck, he will be on the Clippers for five more years. He’s not declining any time soon, that’s for sure.

Shapan Debnath: A

I was wondering if I should knock this down to an A- because he's missed a bunch of games, but nah. Chris Paul is amazing, and the games he's missed have only accentuated how important to this team he is. His numbers have been pretty consistent to his last few seasons in LA, with a few less points due to less field goal attempts. Paul is such a steady hand at point guard, Doc Rivers recently said that not having Chris with this group takes his play count from 100 to 20. That's the kind of different a virtuoso point guard makes, you become more predictable and even those few plays are less crisp. Paul is a Hall of Fame player, and let's hope he can finally have a healthy postseason this year.

Thomas Wood: A+

The dude ages like good scotch. The league keeps getting younger and more explosive at the point guard position, but Paul proves that ingenuity is an equal match for explosiveness, at least in the regular season. Before he suffered another devastating finger injury, he was legitimately in the conversation for the league's most productive player, even if most of the country still refuses to acknowledge it. With the team humming again, his post-All-Star reintegration should fuel the team's second-half hunt for a top-three playoff seed.

Max Jeffrey: A+

Despite the talent-laden depth of this Clippers squad, the presence of Chris Paul has been sorely missed. Paul is the leader of this team in every regard; when he’s on the floor he is capable of scoring at-will on his own, but he chooses to use his immense basketball savvy to make everyone else around him better. The Clippers are 27-9 in the games Paul has played, and despite missing 20 games due to injury, he currently leads the team in Offensive Rating (114.3), Defensive Rating (98.3), Net Rating (15.9), Assist Percentage (47.2%), Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (4.06), and Plus-Minus (10.0). He also leads the team in assists (9.7) and steals (2.3) per game, while ranking 2nd in points (17.5) and 3rd in rebounds (5.3) per game. When Paul is healthy, the Clippers are simply the best version of themselves. Barring any setbacks, he is slated to return within the next few weeks, so Clippers fans must wait patiently until then.

Davey Bales: A-

This grade is incredibly difficult because he's the Clippers' most important player by a mile and, if healthy, was without question having an "A+" season. However, I'm taking factors like role, preseason expectations, and health into consideration, so CP has to be dinged a bit for his unfortunate thumb injury. Still, there's no way I could bring myself to drop him out of the "A"-range. His production on a nightly basis, not just in his masterful command of the offense, but on the defensive end as well, is as vital to this team's success as just about any other individual in the league. He may be averaging his fewest minutes ever, but he has made up for the slight dips in raw scoring and assists numbers by shooting the ball as efficiently as ever (61.1% TS) and rebounding at a near career-high rate (5.3 per game). As frustrating as it is that he's had another season affected by injury, his absence is a reminder of just how phenomenal Chris Paul is every single night.

James Nisky: A

Chris is having an amazing season when he's not injured. It's cliche to mention how important he is to his team, but it must be mentioned that he's ranked fifth in the league in total +/- behind the Warriors big four---that's insane. It may surprise Clips fans to learn that he's actually played the same amount of games this season as Blake Griffin, and that's the only real negative mark on his season, and the only reason I didn't go A+. Chris has had maybe three ugly games this season, but his overall game looks very similar to when he arrived in LA in 2011. His numbers are down a tiny bit, but it's commensurate with his ten percent reduction in minutes. Chris appears to do everything well, and although he's deceivingly athletic, his game is more centered around intelligent decision making and core skills rather than overt physical advantages like quickness or size, so there's no reason to expect any significant decline in his game over the next three seasons. He's a fundamentally sound superstar with a game that ages well.