Chris Paul Becoming more Aggressive is not the Answer

Published: December 4, 2010

There is a common fear building amongst Hornets fans and it concerns the best player in franchise history. Now that losing has become a part of the Hornets reality again and the days of sitting atop of the NBA standings seem like a distant memory, fans want to know why victories are suddenly so hard to come by. I have seen Monty get some of the blame, Okafor parts of it, and even the Peja trade cited as a reason for the swoon. Overwhelmingly, however, the tendency seems to be that fans look at the team’s leader Chris Paul and put these losses on him due to his lack of aggressiveness. Heck, CP3 even put it on himself in his recent comments. While I tend to agree that Chris Paul being more aggressive would lead to more wins, I also contend that this solution is very short sighted.

Nothing is more frustrating to a parent than trying to impart some knowledge to their child, with little to no success. Their little boy or girl comes home with a handful of assignments and the caring parent sits down at the table to go through all of it; to answer any questions that need to be answered. Several hours pass and the child still can not seem to grasp some of the more complex principals of their homework and now the parent is left with a choice: Do I just tell my child the answers and hope that a lightbulb goes off down the line or do I keep plugging away even though I have no assurances that they will ever get this?

This is the situation the Hornets are in currently, and I can understand the fans frustrations with the piling up of losses when it seems like Chris Paul has the “answers” that could lead to wins. He could just take over games, as he is clearly the most talented offensive force on the court and seems to score at will when he really makes his mind up to do so. The question is- Can this team win a title with him playing that role?

It is well documented that there has not been a team to win a title with a point guard as its best player since Isiah Thomas led the Pistons to back to back titles twenty years ago. However, several have come close since then, and to be fair, no team with a small forward as their best player has won a title since the Celtics in ’85-’86, but does mean LeBron or Durant will never win one?

Several point guards have gotten close as either the #1 or #1A guy on their squad and they have done so by being facilitators, not primary scorers. During Utah’s back to back run to the NBA Finals, John Stockton averaged less than ten shots per game over the course of those two seasons. Jason Kidd made a similar run with the Nets in which he was the team’s best player and he only averaged 13 shots per game on a faster paced New Jersey team.

If it weren’t for Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, it can be argued that Steve Nash would have at least two NBA Finals appearances by now, and perhaps even three or four. A two-time league MVP, there is no question that Nash was the best player on his Phoenix teams, and despite that, he has never averaged more than 13 shots per game.

Magic Johnson is the gold standard for point guards in the annals of NBA history. Many consider the ’84-’85 Lakers the best of all his championship teams, and perhaps the greatest Lakers team of All-Time. That team averaged over 118 PPG and played at a run and gun NBA pace, and despite all of that, the great Magic Johnson took less than 12 shots per game despite being the best player in the NBA at the prime of his career.

The lesson here is that point guard can lead a team to an NBA Finals, he can lead them to championships, or even a dynasty. But the model for any of those things include an extremely talented supporting cast that allows the playmaker to do what he does best without having to carry the extra burden of scoring. In the franchise’s best season, Chris Paul did it all, as he was both a playmaker and a scorer. He averaged over 16 shots per game (compared to just over 10 this season), but in game 7 the Spurs showed that our offense was just fool’s gold. They stuck to Peja, prevented the lob, and demanded that Chris Paul (and Janerro Pargo) beat them. The Hornets had been giving their children the answers to the homework questions all season long, so when the test came- they failed.

If the Hornets are to build a championship team, it will be with Paul in a role much closer to the one we have seen this year than the one we witnessed in ’07-’08. While that is frustrating right now due to the Hornets lack of surrounding talent, it is what is best for the team long term. If Chris Paul were to continue to just mask the deficiencies for another year or two, no major changes would be deemed necessary to be made, and when you are honest with yourself about the talent on this team, you would see that is a huge mistake.

This part is always hard, and it is so easy to take shortcuts when the bad results pile up, but think about what that does for the future. Am I referring to the Hornets or the parent? Does it matter?


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