Monday, January 30

The Chris Paul Effect: How Suns have rewritten franchise history with CP3


With a win against the Lakers, Chris Paul just led his fourth (out of five total) team to a franchise-best in single-season wins. Ironically, this isn’t the first time the four out of five statistic has applied to Paul.

Of the 14 lottery picks in the 2005 NBA Draft, five went to college in North Carolina.

Not surprisingly, four of the five (Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants) went to Michael Jordan’s alma mater, the University of North Carolina.

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The other top pick in that draft from a college in North Carolina? Paul, who played his college basketball at Wake Forest University.

Selected fourth overall by the then-New Orleans Hornets, Paul didn’t immediately transform his team into a contender when he first entered the league, but it didn’t take long.

After two years of fighting to get to .500, he led the Hornets to the best finish in franchise history with a 56-26 record, good for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, where they fell one win shy of advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

That magical run was followed by an injury-riddled season and a few coaching moves, but Paul was clearly valuable and, as a result, both teams in LA pursued trades for him.

While the move to the Lakers did not matriculate, Paul still found his way to Hollywood, creating one of the most dynamic environments the league had ever seen, with the Lob City Clippers.

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That’s right, Paul was special enough to make the Clippers relevant!

While the team had a young, high-flying Blake Griffin, it was Paul who created opportunities for Griffin to get his signature dunks around the rim.

In fact, Paul thrust the Clippers into the top-10 of 2-point FG% in each of his seasons with Los Angeles. They were also consistently in the top three between 2012 and 2015, a stark comparison from the very mediocre 14th place before Paul’s arrival.

But why does that matter? B.cause it led to a lot of buckets like this:

Teams that shoot at such an efficient rate must have a brilliant point guard to direct flow and get the team in place to execute. Once again, it led to Paul taking a team to uncharted territory as the Clippers won a franchise-best 57 games in the 2013-14 season.

The 2013 All-Star MVP set the standard for the Hornets and Clippers, but his next team actually had a little bit of history, meaning it would be more difficult to raise the ceiling, right?

Wrong.

When Paul was traded to the Rockets he helped push the franchise to its first-ever 60-win season, something the likes of Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley failed to do. The stint in H-Town was tarnished by a hamstring injury that prevented the Rockets from defeating the Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals, though it did provide one “shimmering” moment:

In what could end up being one of the worst trades for the Rockets franchise, Paul was shipped over to Oklahoma City, where, believe it or not, he did not set a franchise record for wins.

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What Paul did do was take a Thunder team that had 250/1 odds to win the NBA title to the brink of the second round. On paper, this may have seemed like a wasted season for the future Hall of Famer but it was just enough to catch the eye of his current team, the Suns.

That same season, the Suns were a perfect 8-0 in the NBA Bubble and just missed out on the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

Paul’s overachievement with the Thunder and the Suns’ need for veteran leadership aligned perfectly.

No less than eight months after the Suns acquired Paul in November 2020, they appeared in the 2021 NBA Finals, the first time the franchise reached that stage since 1993.

After falling two wins shy of the title, Paul is back in familiar territory as the Suns have set a record for franchise wins and have already clinched the NBA’s best record.

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Aside from winning a title, there isn’t much left for Paul to do to cement his legacy and While the 12-time All-Star has seen his career center around the aforementioned “four out of five” rule, he can join a “five out of five” group with a championship this year.

Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, only once has the NBA seen a different champion crowned in five consecutive years.

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Should the Suns take home the Larry O’Brien trophy this summer, they will join the Warriors (2018), Raptors (2019), Lakers (2020) and Bucks (2021) as the second set of teams to accomplish this feat.

Here’s to hoping the Point God gets his prayers answered.




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