The New Chris Paul
With the Hornets mired in a slump going into their longest road trip of the season, there is a simple equation as to what’s wrong, and we as Hornet fans aren’t used to it. We are getting beaten soundly at the starting PG position. While knee-jerk reactions will abound, there have been signs of a change in Chris Paul’s game all year, and even into last season. It’s gotten so bad recently that he’s been out-played by his backup.
Chris Paul has 13 points on 22 shots over the last two games, which is horrendous, and an extremely small sample size. He also has 17 assists to 1 turnover, so its not all bad. I think the reality is, with Chris’s style of play early in his career, the writing was on the wall. His days of being a dominating player are extremely finite. I’ve seen him control the pace of a handful of games this season, but then I ask myself, “When was the last time I saw Chris Paul completely dominate a game?” The answer I come up with is “sometime in the spring of 2009.” We all know there is a huge difference between “controlling” and “dominating” a game. I think we’re looking at what will be the new Chris Paul, the dreaded “effective game manager.”
I do believe that health is playing a big role in Chris’s play of late, but the guy has had multiple ankle and knee surgeries in his career. It hasn’t been as publicized like it has in Brandon Roy’s case, but I’d be willing to bet that Paul’s meniscus condition is likewise degenerative. I’m happy to have been a season ticket holder during 07-08, and even most of 08-09, when I saw CP playing at peak form, because I think that those days are extremely few and far-between moving forward. Its sad to entertain the notion that Chris will probably not have the type of career that some of his predecessors (Stockton, Nash, Kidd, Isiah Thomas) enjoyed. I just don’t see him playing that long. I forsee him having 4-6 more effective years left, followed by 4 or so more “ring-chasing” years after that as a journeyman 1-year contract player.
Here’s the conundrum for the Hornets in the short term, the team needs more than a game-managing PG. They need real scoring punch to the tune of around 18-20ppg. The rest of the team, oustide of West and perhaps Landry, just (a) doesn’t shoot well enough or (b) cannot create their own shot. So what do the Hornets do? I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.
What’s next for CP? Well, there are a multitude of factors, and most of it depends on the labor negotiations. If a system is collectively bargained that looks in any way like this system we are currently under, then CP is as good as gone. he knows he has one more chance to win it all as a major contributor, and knows he can’t be “the man” night-in and night-out anymore. He’ll go join his boy Melo in NY. If the have something resembling a hard cap, then there probably aren’t enough teams out there that can really make a run at him. Other scenarios include him pulling a Baron Davis, or the Hornets realizing that Chris may not suit their true long-term plans, thereby shipping him out.
This journal has no basis in fact. It’s just a series of observations and conjecture. Feel free to rip me apart. This was a very difficult journal for me to write
This post was submitted by Mikey.