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Chris Paul and subtle art of taking over a game

Aug 13, 2012, 8:45 AM EDT

London Olympics Basketball Men AP

Chris Paul is athletic, but not Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook athletic where he can make a move that has your jaw drop like you’re in a Tex Avery cartoon.

Chris Paul can shoot and score, but he’s not unstoppably pure like Kevin Durant or Ray Allen.

Chris Paul did not put up a monster stat line in the USA’s gold medal win over Spain on Sunday — 11 points and two assists — but if you watched the game closely you saw why Chris Paul is the best pure point guard on the planet. You saw him take control of Team USA and the game.

He does it all the time, but he does it in a more subtle way than some of the game’s explosive superstars and it gets overlooked. It shouldn’t. Paul’s game is cerebral, he is the conductor of the orchestra, not the soloist (unless he has to be). The USA needed that against Spain. They needed focus and direction that he provided on the court.

It’s not that he didn’t make a couple big plays — he hit a key fourth quarter three and had a brilliant driving layup, both of helped the USA keep ahead from Spain, both were key shots.

But that’s just a fraction of what Paul did. In the first half Spain’s guards — particularly Juan Carlos-Navarro — tore the USA defense up. Starting from the first play of the second half Paul was up on Navarro and the other Spain guards taking them out of their rhythm, removing space and easy angles to make plays (Pau Gasol kept Spain in it after that).

On offense, the tempo and flow of the game changed and Paul was key to that — he set Team USA up, he got some easy looks and got them running. It was him helping the Americans stretch out at the top of the fourth quarter and not looking back. It wasn’t done with thunderous dunks or highlight reel stuff, it was just done with amazingly good basketball instincts.

Watch Paul do it during the regular season as well. The Clippers are his teams and he directs games like a conductor. In a town with Kobe Bryant and now Dwight Howard, Paul can make a legitimate argument as being the best player in Los Angeles.

You just won’t notice it as simply.

  1. joshm5683 - Aug 13, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    I’m a Lakers fan and I would say CP3 is the best player in LA and it isn’t really that close. If we were comparing Kobe at age 28 vs CP3 that’d be different but Kobe at 34 is definitely not the best in the city of LA and probably not even his own team. I would still give CP3 the edge over D12 because Howard still hasn’t shown anything since hurting his back, and D12 is physically dominant, his actual basketball skills aren’t that stellar. He can jump and run, but he can’t shoot a FT and has a very limited offensive arsenal.

  2. gmoney24 - Aug 13, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    cp3 good but he ain’t that good homie

  3. chicitybulls - Aug 13, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    You’re going to keep pushing that “Paul is the best pg in the league” thing until somebody that actually matters believes you huh Kurt? Fight the good fight, money.

    • meroyero - Aug 13, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      I believe him…

      but i don’t matter

      • chicitybulls - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        We (fans) dont. We are all entitled to our opinions. I would never try to take that away from anybody. But you know what they say about opinions. The FACT of the matter is that Rose was the starting pg on this team before he got hurt. And this decision was made by HOFers in Jerry Colangelo and Coack K. Now you tell me, if you had the “best pg in the league” would you not start him? Neither Kurt nor anybody else can answer that question. He (and many others) just avoids it. That’s because it’s his opinion and his (and others) dont really matter when it comes to the facts.

      • cordae - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:50 PM

        Just shut up. Rose is without a doubt a physical monster, but at 23 he is just that. He is one of those Kobe or Jordan type guys (work ethic wise) and does whatever it takes to better his game, he WILL be the best pg in the game…one day. But if you as a hoops fan sit here and say Rose is a better INTERNATIONAL ball fit than Paul you are an idiot and do not watch basketball. As I have said time and time again on this site, Chris Pauls bball IQ is through the roof. The only other IQ comparable is Rondos, and even though its still early to tell, Kyrie is smart as hell too..

        I understand being a die-hard fan, but dont let your bias overshadow your common sense..

      • chicitybulls - Aug 14, 2012 at 1:43 AM

        I am not a illogical fan. I am a basketball fan. Been watching since the 80s when the Bulls had Orlando Woolridge. When the Bulls are bad I say that. When they’re good I say that. But to say the Chris Paul is the best without any facts and your opinion that “his basketball IQ is better” is just that. An opinion. Which you’re entitled to. But having said that I have plenty of facts to back my opinion. From the fact that not only is Rose undefeated against him (yes I know the team has a lot to do with it but early on Paul and the Hornets were better than the Bulls with VDN) and put up better stats than him. And again, I keep asking the question but never get an answer. If Paul is better than why is it that Rose was the starter on the Olympic team over him? A decision made by HOFers and not opinionated fans with nothing to back it up with? It makes sense to have your BEST out there right? I mean you wouldn’t have Kobe or Lebron or Howard (if healthy) not starting would you? I’ll wait for your answer.

    • eventhorizon04 - Aug 13, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      “You’re going to keep pushing that “Paul is the best pg in the league” thing until somebody that actually matters believes you huh Kurt?”

      First of all, he wrote CP3 is the best pure PG in the league.
      Derrick Rose’s playmaking isn’t what makes him famous – it’s his athleticism and scoring.

      Nash and CP3 manage to get 10+ assists on rosters with even less offensive talent than the Bulls – that makes them better PURE PGs.

      CP3 is the best pure PG in the NBA by general acclaim (All-NBA First Team). One elite year by Derrick Rose in which he averaged the same number of assists as LeBron James doesn’t knock CP3 off that pedestal.

      • chicitybulls - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        @ event
        It’s his all around game not just his athleticism and scoring. If you’ve watched him before he came to the league (which obviously you haven’t) he wasn’t a scorer at Memphis or when he first came into the league. He’s, at heart, a pass first pg. He would much rather pass than score. He’s scoring now because that’s what the team needs him to do. And you say the Bulls have much more offensive talents but many people in the league and former players and some fans question whether the Bulls have enough scoring to win. Their defense has not been a concern. It’s that “who’s the second scorer” thing. Remember? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say the Bulls have more offensive weapons but then say they can’t win because they dont have a second scorer. And, again, if he’s not the best pg then why is he the starter on the Olympic team? People can hate on Rose all they want or try to diminish him or say he’s over-rated, whatever. But he wouldn’t be the starter on the Olympic team if he wasn’t the best. Whenever you or Kurt or anyone else can answer that I’m ready to listen. Paul is good. I’m not saying he’s not which is what I think a lot of people are taking away from what I’m saying. Like I’m trying to diminish him. But he’s not “the best”.

      • cordae - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:28 PM

        “But to say the Chris Paul is the best without any facts and your opinion that “his basketball IQ is better” is just that. An opinion.”

        So you’re going to tell me that Rose doesnt manipulate defenses soley on athleticism? Not to knock that but we all know the physical aspect of the game fades and the mental is what keeps you going. Kobe doesnt bang on people like he used to all the time, He gets to his comfortable spots and light it up. You can play just about any defense against CP3, man-to-man, 2-3, hell box-and-1 and he’s STILL going to adapt. He’s opposing coaches nightmares. So you tell me whats tougher to do; let an athletic guy go off and shut the rest of the team down? Or try to stop a guy who gets himself and EVERYONE involved?…thought so. And to give you an answer you’re desperately looking for, when Rose ws the starter that roster wasnt even set in stone, they still had to TRY-OUT for the team. I’m pretty sure they didnt need Russ and Derrick anyway, one or the other…

      • chicitybulls - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:06 PM

        Look, you’re going to believe what you want to believe. That’s good for you. But only 1 guy has an MVP. Only 1 guy is undefeated against the other and only 1 guy put up better numbers than the other one head to head. The fact that you think Rose and Westbrook are essentially the same guy tells me everything I need to know. I have too many facts to back up my opinion. All you have is unsubstantiated claims and speculation. Good luck with that though.

  4. aboogy123456 - Aug 13, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Great article, Chris paul is my favorite player to watch because of the way he manipulates a defense and has full control of the game.

    I would say he’s easily the third best player in the NBA behind kobe and Lebron. However you rank those three, I think there is a gap between them and the rest of the league. He should’ve been in the discussion for MVP last year, but he’ll get his recognition soon.

    • pudgalvin - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      You think Chris Paul is easily better than Kevin Durant?

      • aboogy123456 - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Yes, I like Kevin Durant and I think he would be 4th, but if you compare him to Chris paul it’s not close.

        Defense: Chris paul has such fast hands and led the league in steals, and point guards have bad games against him. Durant improved a lot on defense last year, but he still doesn’t make a huge impact.

        Offense: I think to be the best, you need to be able to make the game easier for others, which is what chris paul does so well. Durant will score on just about anybody, but he doesn’t significantly change the defense’s gameplan. he doesn’t create like chris paul, kobe, or lebron. They are both clutch, but at the end of the game I would rather give chris paul the ball and get a great shot whether it’s him or someone else.

        Durant also needs to learn to get the ball more, we always blame westbrook for taking ill advised shots and not getting durant the ball for stretches, but if it was someone else like kobe or chris paul, he would cuss westbrook out and make sure he gets him the ball.

      • cordae - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        Great points BUT…

        When has Kobe made anyone else better?

    • kylos13 - Aug 13, 2012 at 8:37 PM

      Agree with you, but I would substitute Kobe for Durant in the top 3 duiscussion. Durant is a better player than Kobe as of right now

  5. 1historian - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    In the USA basketball at the highest level, as played in the NBA and by the American Olympic teams, can rise to the level of an art form. Not so in other countries, but here it does sometimes. It’s almost like jazz sometimes.

    All we can do is watch and enjoy it.

  6. muir6 - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    When he hit 3and got his knee wiped out, he got angry and just took over. The only thing that stops him is health

  7. mat9844 - Aug 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Totally agree. CP3 is not only the best PG, he’s the best playmaker for the team. Clips are looking good this year with Paul, Griffin, Odom, Grant, Jordon and a very talented bench. We’re gonna have a great year!

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