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Is Chris Paul becoming more John Stockton than Isiah Thomas?

Mar 4, 2011, 8:12 AM EDT

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge Getty Images

Chris Paul insists he’s healthy. He says his knee isn’t bothering him. But if you watched him in December and you watched him in March, you’re going to have a hard time buying it.

The question is — will Paul ever be right? I mean right like he was three seasons ago?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Ryan Schwan (of Hornets247) wrote a fantastic column at TrueHoop about the evolution of Paul. He has never been a baller who solely relies on being more athletic than you. He has skills, he has hoop IQ. He has the ability to adjust. And the template of exists.

Whereas Paul was once on track to be Isiah Thomas 2.0, he has become something else entirely without that lightning first step. It might be time for a new comparison: Paul has become John Stockton 2.0…

He’s still quick, elusive and able to free himself and his teammates for baskets, but these days, his play in the half court is almost entirely reliant on misdirection and clever ballhandling. He goes to the basket less, but compensates by shooting at a better clip than ever before. With his strength and low center of gravity intact, he often relies on running into opposing players to force them to retreat and give him room to shoot….

Regardless, it has been an amazing transformation over the course of less than a year. As he’s encountered new limitations, he has shifted his focus to being the best floor general he can be.

Schwan notes that the tables have flipped — it used to be that Deron Williams was the less athletic and more cerebral player of the two elite point guards (who will forever be compared because they were taken back-to-back in the 2005 draft). Now, Williams relies more on his athleticism than Paul.

The problem is that despite Paul’s evolution, the team is struggling — 3-7 in their last 10. The problem is that the lack of evolution by the team may have him taking his talents elsewhere in a couple years. And there will be a large market for those Stockton-like talents.

  1. redstar504 - Mar 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I don’t think the tables have flipped. CP3 is just from the school of LeBozo he is probably tanking it in the hope of making it easier for him to force his way to join LeBozo or go to NYC this summer. He is just using a different track instead of tanking in the playoffs he is going to tank now and make sure they don’t even get to the playoffs. That way he can start making noise and force a trade that way he don’t have to play another year on that contract that he signed.

    By the way the NBA contract is becoming worthless since players, especially by the mid-twenty something stars, are simply voiding out the last true non-voidable year on them, this on top of the usual player option/voidable year they already have built in to the last year. I hope since they can get away with getting out of a contract at any point by being a pain in the rear that next CBA deal the owners get rid of the guaranteed contract. I hope they gain the ability to fire players. When middle of the road players and low end guys don’t get cash buy outs anymore or even worse just flat out cut they can blame the LeBrons, Mellows, Pauls of the NBA.

    In the new NBA there is no team. The new star is selfish. They care only about them selves and their legacy. Role players only exist to make them greater so why should it be any different when it comes to how the system works.

  2. craigw24 - Mar 4, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Boy redstar504, are you a wet blanket or what? I am not sure exactly why you are a fan of the NBA, but you sure don’t like the players. Since you think the owners are such a great and fair group of gentlemen, I suggest you invest your time in the NFL product – there management has much more control over their product and don’t have to open their books to anyone.

    • redstar504 - Mar 4, 2011 at 1:22 PM

      Craigw24 you are right I do have a lot of hate for the players but that hate is directed only towards the early to mid 20 something superstar we have right now.

      I love the NBA and the game (also a huge NFL fan as well and I do like that model). I just hate where the game is headed. I hate the selfishness and the “me-first and over all and any” attitudes the young stars have today. It bothers me because their selfishness is going to set up a backlash that causes changes in the system that will effect the role player and average guy. They are the ones who will cause changes but they won’t be effected by them.

      Look, I am the type of guy that thinks low key and loyal guys like Kevin Durant are breaths of fresh air. I am just fed up with the trend Lebron started. I know people have said it happened before which is bull. You had a guy here and there pull this junk but never all the big guys at one time. Pretty soon the whole Olympic team will be congregated in a few cities.

      I do hate on the players and rant here a lot because I am frustrated about where the NBA is headed, but most of all I am an NBA fan that lives in a small market. I just want a chance to win. I don’t want New Orleans to become a D-league team and I don’t want any other city’s team to become a farm team. I want all NBA cities to have a chance and the ability to hold on to the “Franchise” guy.

      I am just a frustrated NBA fan.

      So yeh sure I would like the NBA to be more like the NFL

      • hnirobert3 - Mar 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        “Craigw24 you are right I do have a lot of hate for the players but that hate is directed only towards the early to mid 20 something superstar we have right now.”

        Hate’s a strong word, dude. Get a grip on life. These are athletes/entertainers.

        “So yeh sure I would like the NBA to be more like the NFL”

        So you wish the NBA was run by a dictator who makes rules as he goes and fines players for wearing non-NFL licensed gear or celebrating touchdowns? Ever heard of the NFL being referred to as the No Fun League? I know this is not PFT but there’s something wrong about NFL teams being able to franchise tag players, thus not letting them sign long term contracts with teams who will have them, which is especially unfair in a sport where one bad tackle or chunk of grass missing in the field leads to a career ending knee injury. But at least the player didn’t get that long term contract. I’ll side with the millionaire before I’ll side with the billionaire.

  3. teke184 - Mar 4, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Since my comment was deleted earlier, I’ll clean up and try it again.

    Kurt’s comment about “the lack of evolution by the team” shows he has paid little attention to the Hornets over the past few years. The depth of the team during the 06-07 season, when they were #2 in the West, was abysmal compared to this year’s team.

    The roster this year contains the best supporting cast that Paul has ever had with the Hornets and, if you look at the last 10 games, the difference between 3-7 and 7-3 is Paul making his shots and/or keeping the opposing point from running wild.

    We’re not talking about opposing points like Derrick Rose or Deron Williams for the most part, either, as he’s instead getting embarrassed by guys like Toney Douglas, who was subbing for Chauncey Billups.

    Paul’s game is clearly off, either due to injuries or other issues, and you can’t lay the blame on the rest of the team for nearly winning *in spite* of him these days. At this point, they may as well bench him in favor of Jarrett Jack just to keep the team in the playoff hunt.

  4. savocabol1 - Mar 4, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Chris Paul is becoming more CHRIS PAUL. Not two people that he may have a vague resemblence in quality to. So sick of every media outlet trying to compare every basketball player from the past.

    • zackd2 - Mar 5, 2011 at 12:03 AM

      This comment reminds me of another comment I saw one time.

  5. davidly - Mar 5, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    CP3 is a phenom on the court. His efficiency surpasses all the other point guards mentioned in the article. The problem is that the game is not geared towards an assist leader in terms of NBA championships. The only team to win an NBA championship with the assist leader is the Lakers with Magic in ’87.

    So obviously, Chris Paul just needs his teammates to be more Worthy, if you know what I mean.

  6. alltimeballa - Mar 5, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    its time to face it…..this is not your fathers NBA anymore! Hell, its not even our NBA anymore but we have to see it for what it is. Many of these guys have a rivalry on court but it does not bleed over into their personal lives. They don’t have any hate for each other so if there is an opportunity for them to go somewhere and play alongside another superstar, they seize the moment. Its actually a bit refreshing to see guys going for championships instead of dollars. Lebrons brand has taken a major hit and Im sure he has lost some money but in all fairness we have always said that it would be refreshing to see an athlete choose the game over the money and endorsements. Atleast they aren;t doing what Karl Malone, Gary Payton and a few others did which was go to a team that they felt could win a championship at the end of their careers because they wanted a ring! If CP3 wants to play somewhere else, its his right. Let’s just enjoy his game and skill. It may be good if more of us become basketball fans instead of a fan of a specific team.

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