Could 2010-11 Be a Record Breaking Season for CP3?

Published: October 28, 2010

Last night against the Milwaukee Bucks, the New Orleans Hornets made 34 field goals. Chris Paul had six of those and of the other 28; he assisted on 16 of them.  And although those numbers were impressive, he easily could have registered 20+ assists if Belinelli and Ariza were able to knock down some wide-open shots that CP3 created for the two of them. Not one of Paul’s assists came in the 4th quarter, even though he did penetrate and get his teammates open looks in the final 8 minutes of that game.

If CP3 notched 16 assists last night when his teammates were a little off, don’t we have to wonder what his numbers will look like when dead-eye spot up shooters like Belinelli find their stroke? With more weapons around him than he has had at any point of his career, is it possible that CP3 can take down a record that has stood for over twenty years- and honestly hasn’t really ever been threatened by another player?

In the 1989-90 season, John Stockton set the single season APG mark by averaging 14.5 assists per game. The following year he averaged 14.2 and posted 12 or more assists per game in subsequent years. Other than Stockton, however, no other player has averaged more than 11.6 assists per game since Stockton set the record. In 2007-08, two point guards finished the season averaging 11.6 APG; one was Steve Nash and the other was Chris Paul.

While 07-08 was the best season in franchise history, this year’s version of the Hornets might have even more firepower than the team that averaged 100.9 points per game during that season. That team was a four-man unit on the offensive end that received contributions from time to time from role players like Rasual Butler and Jannero Pargo. This team, however, has at least five players not named Chris Paul who can go off for twenty on any given night. They are more athletic in transition and are more proficient from the perimeter than their counterparts from 07-08.

What this team does not have is the Crescent City Connection; the game-changing lob from CP3 to Tyson Chandler that accounted for nearly 2 assists per game for Paul over the course of the 07-08 season. It also doesn’t have the Peja Stojakovic of three years ago. That year Peja shot 44 percent from deep, averaging over 16 PPG in 35 minutes. Although Peja is on this team (for now), he cannot be counted on to connect on his outside shots with the consistency he did in that magical season.

Despite missing out on those two key ingredients, however, it is still extremely likely that this year’s team can produce better numbers offensively. While the Hornets finished 9th in the league that year in points scored, they finished 26th in pace- averaging just under 90 possessions per game.  With more athletic wings like Bayless, Thornton, Ariza, and Belinelli surrounding him, Chris Paul can push the ball more and create easier opportunities for everyone around him.

The infusion of young, athletic talent has taken the onus off of CP3 to score and the days of him averaging 20-22 PPG might be behind him. It was a role he was reluctant to embrace to begin with, and now he might not have to anymore. He can focus on being the facilitator for an offense that might be one of the best in the league once the pieces figure out how to mesh. We’ve seen what is possible when CP3 is surrounded by talent, and with this Hornet team being the most stocked offensive team that CP3 has had to date, it might be time to rewrite the record books.


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