CP3 for MVP

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Published: March 19, 2008

((Part of this item was previously posted on Forum Blue and Gold in response to their request for me to argue CP3 for MVP)) 

Last night Paul was a force of nature, pure and simple.  People will focus on his offense and the open court steal he pulled off just as the Bulls had managed to finally get a stop against a surging Hornets team.  However, that moment, as great as it was, was not the moment that won the game for us.  The game turned when Paul, already running the offense with near perfection, was switched defensively onto Ben Gordon, who had been drilling shot after shot coming off a high screen.  Three minutes later, the Hornets were up 11, the game was over, and Ben hadn't even attempted another shot.  Paul had completely neutralized the Bulls hottest player. 

That game pretty much sealed it for me.  In my mind, Chris Paul is the MVP of the league.  When he was called on to take over – he did it, on both ends of the floor.  If it had only been the game in Chicago, I'd probably still be alright with LeBron or Kobe taking the MVP this year, but I can't say that anymore.

We knew at the start of the year that March was going to be our toughest month.  15 games in 31 nights. Four back to backs. Only 5 games against teams with losing records.  It looked so harsh, Stein of ESPN was already predicting an inevitable Hornets slide.  Paul, apparently, had a different idea of how March would go.

It would be his coming out party.

Through March, Paul's been shooting 59% from the field, 48% from deep.  He's averaging 25.8 points, 13.6 assists, 2.7 steals, and a measly 2.8 turnovers.  The team has won six of nine with David West injured for four of them.  He's taking a flawed team through their toughest stretch, and doing it in style.

Okay, I can hear you doubters snorting. All serious MVP candidates can throw amazing stats around.  Then I'll answer by presenting his candidacy in terms of the arguments being presented for the other top two candidates: LeBron and Kobe. The argument for LeBron is that his stats are the best of any player in the league, and that his supporting cast sucks and he has to do it all for his team. The argument for Kobe are that his stats aren’t that far below LeBron’s and his team is having much greater success.

Good arguments, but Paul actually falls right in with the two players. Most stats analysis sites rank Paul above Kobe and slightly lower than LeBron. Arguably Paul has worse teammates than Kobe, and better teammates than LeBron, but the Hornets are now tied with the Lakers and eight games ahead of Bron-Bron. Essentially, he’s a close 2nd best in stats for the three, and is tied for the best team success of the three, while the other two guys have a 1st and 3rd each.

His impact on his team as a whole is also on par. Purely on an offensive level, James is statistically responsible for 47% of his team’s production.(31 points, 7.5 assists for 46 total points out of 97 points per game) Bryant is responsible for 36%(28 points, 5.3 assists for 39 of his teams 108 points per game). Paul is responsible for 43%(21 points, 11 assists, for 43 out his teams 100 points a game) Paul does that in less minutes and with better shooting percentages than either of the other two. As an added point, despite being the primary ballhandler for the Hornets, he he produces less turnovers than either player, and actually generates more steals than turnovers anyways.  And his steals don't hurt his team's defense – he doesn't gamble for his takeaways, usually just sticking his hand in and picking his cover clean – or intercepting the ball in the open court.

Paul is the heart and soul of the Hornets. He runs it, he leads it, and all the guys look and listen while he’s talking. He gets on his guys relentlessly, will correct anyone, and is as fierce a competitor as I’ve ever seen. And he’s a mean bastard on the court. When a team puts someone on him with instructions to bump and push him, he gets downright nasty. Bruce Bowen has already been on the wrong side of altercations with him twice. Paul smacked him in the face by “accident” two games ago when Bowen was poking and slapping at him too much, and last game, Bowen ended up kneeing him during a loose ball scramble, but he was responding to Paul starting the whole tiff by sitting up and giving him a forearm shiver in the nads. The result both times? Paul got offensive fouls – and Bowen laid off of him for the rest of the games. For a generously listed 6'0" guy, he knows how to protect himself.

Sounds like he'd be a jerk, doesn't it?  Pick an interview.  Any interview.  The words out of his mouth are always "We", "We", "We".  He always talks about what his teammates did to get the win, not what he did.  And when asked about the MVP chants in the arena, he agrees that David West is a league MVP.  Can you imagine Kobe or LeBron talking that way day in and day out to anyone?  Kobe, who has always(unsuccessfully) fought his selfish image?  LeBron, who in all seriousness aspires to be a "Global Icon."  Please.

I'll take CP3 for MVP.

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