In his heyday, Chris Paul was one of the most dangerous point guards in the league. His deadly midrange jumper, crafty passing and excellent court vision made him a nightmare for teams to guard. However, it’s hard to see him being the same guy now, at the age of 38.
His production for the Phoenix Suns last year was still good, with averages of 13.9 points, 8.9 assists and 1.5 steals, but had already dropped off from 14.7 points, 10.8 assists and 1.9 steals from in the 2021-22 campaign. He also only played in 59 regular season games last season due to a mix of injuries and rest.
Still, someone with that kind of resume has earned his respect, which seems to be why Steve Kerr is still yet to make a decision about whether or not Paul will be his starting point guard.
Pairing Steph Curry and Paul in a starting back court would be good for their offense, but it’s a different story on the other side of the court. Listed at 6’0 and 175lb Paul will be smaller than many of the elite point guards that he’d have to defend, and declining athleticism will mean that he’ll have to rely more and more on craftiness to succeed.
Sure, having Draymond Green around to help cover some mistakes will help, but being the playmaker come off the bench to help keep games together when Curry sits might be the better role for Paul. It might be a tough pill to swallow, considering that basketball-reference shows that Paul’s never come off the bench in any regular season game that he’s played in.
Having that kind of record, and then having to sacrifice for the team, can be a difficult transition. The question now, is, does Paul care more about maximizing his chances at a ring, or does he want to be on the floor in lineups that don’t maximize his talents?
He’d be far from the first NBA star to refuse to accept a smaller role, especially while still being paid a big salary. Superstars like Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony weren’t able to do it initially, with the latter getting frozen out of the NBA for a few years before having a small resurgence as a solid contributor for the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers.
One example of a player that sacrified and succeeded is Manu Ginobli. We all know how that worked out for the San Antonio Spurs in the end.