Chris Paul is NOT Baron Davis

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Published: December 31, 2007

We've received a request from the Golden State of Mind Blog to answer some questions of theirs about our team in preparation for our upcoming January 4th game against the Warriors.  Since one of the questions, inevitably, was about Chris Paul and Baron Davis, I've decided to post here an piece I did back in September on The Hornets Fan Blog.  That way I can direct them here and not to my old defunct Blog.  Enjoy, if you haven't seen it before.

 

It's a little complex explaining just what Chris Paul has done for Hornets fans – and just why we hold him in such incredible esteem. When he stepped in as a rookie, the Hornets were coming off their worst season ever, and not just in terms of record. Over the course of the previous year, the team had been gutted. Jamal Mashburn was forced by injury to retire, Jamaal Magloire sulked in training camp, didn't play hard, and then got injured and sat out most of the rest of the year. David Wesley and fan favorite Daryl Armstrong were traded away. Baron Davis forced the Hornets to trade him mid-year. By the end of training camp the following season, Magloire would be gone as well. You can tell just how bad it had gotten by reading the end of the 2004-2005 season summary on the Official Hornets Site.

" . . . But it was a year of rebuilding, regrowth and discovery as the Hornets developed and harnessed talents like Chris Andersen, Bostjan Nachbar and 2004 draft pick J.R. Smith. With these young players showing great promise, the future looks brighter for Coach Scott and the Hornets."

That's the best the Hornets Marketing team could come up with after the season. "harnessed talents like Chris Andersen, Bostjan Nachbar and J. R. Smith." A group of players so talented that none of them made it to the 2006-2007 team. The Hornets cabinet was nearly bare.

But lack of talent was not the reason Hornets fans walked away from that season scarred; it was how the team had collapsed. It wasn't injuries or free agents leaving. It was blown apart, from the inside, before even training camp had started, by All-Star guard Baron Davis. And that is yet one more reason why Chris Paul is so beloved by Hornets Fans. He's not Baron Davis. And the thought that he could become Baron Davis terrifies Hornets Fans.

If you look at their numbers in 2006-2007, Davis and Paul aren't so different. Baron put up 20.1 points on 43.9% shooting, 30.4% from 3-point range, 8.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.14 steals, and 3 turnovers. Chris Paul put up 17.3 points on 43.7% shooting, 35% from 3-point range, 8.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.84 steals, and 2.5 turnovers. But this is a prime example of numbers not telling the whole story. In his first few years as a starter with the Hornets, Baron Davis was everything we wanted in a point guard. Dazzling, skilled, even spectacular at times.(two triple doubles in one playoff series against Orlando!) But as his reputation grew, so did his ego. He became selfish, he'd wave off calls, jack up bad shots, pass the ball only when he was unable to create for himself, drive into the teeth of four defenders and accomplish nothing. He'd showboat, smirk and strut in one game, and in the next sulk and snap at his teammates. And then in 2004-2005, he decided the Hornets hadn't done enough for him to be able to win. That his maximum contract wasn't good enough. He decided to force an exit, gave up on the season, pretended to be injured, and threw his teammates under the bus.

Chris Paul hasn't done any of those things – and he's already as well known as Baron. In interviews, he is self-depracating, funny, and always credits his teammates for his success. Never once has he said a critical word about any of them to the press. On the court he is always under control, executes plays like a surgeon, rarely forces a shot, and leads his team. His first season, as a rookie, you could see the other players, even long-time veterans, responding to him and following his lead. Every player that comes to the Hornets talks about how great it will be to play with someone like Chris Paul. And who wouldn't want to play with him? He plays with fire, passion, and a competitiveness that earns him a place in both the top twenty for technical fouls last season and on youtube clips punching the best oppposing player in the groin. On purpose.

Within two seasons, we've gone from bottom-feeding to fighting for playoff contention. Such turnarounds are few and far between, and a lot of that improvement was brought on by Chris Paul. So you'll have to forgive us Hornets Fans if we think he's is the best damn point guard in the game. Better than Steve Nash, better than Jason Kidd, better than Deron Williams, and way better than Baron Davis.

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