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Chris Paul discusses his place in the MVP conversation

Feb 15, 2013, 8:24 PM EDT

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HOUSTON — Chris Paul is having one of his best overall seasons, leading a deep and talented Clippers team to top-tier status playing among the elite in the Western Conference.

Paul’s importance as the main cog that keeps the Clippers machine running was spotlighted recently, when his team struggled with a record of just 2-7 during a nine-game stretch when he was sidelined with a bruised right knee.

LeBron James has been other-worldly, and Kevin Durant might finish the season in the rarified 50-40-90 air in terms of shooting percentages from the field, the three-point line, and the free throw line before it’s all said and done. But Paul has been just as important to his team’s overall success, despite his not-as-gaudy numbers.

When asked if he deserves to be in the MVP conversation during his All-Star media availability on Friday, Paul chose to focus on his team’s goals for this season rather than his own personal achievements.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t even worry about it to tell you the truth. I’ve been runner-up for like three years or something like that, so it is what it is. I’m more focused on winning a championship.”

The MVP is subjective, of course, and is maddening to pin down when fans try to win arguments either for or against a certain player’s candidacy. Paul defined it fairly simply.

“On every team in the league, they know who their most valuable player is,” he said. “It’s that team that wouldn’t be the same without that guy. Everybody has a different person on their team that fits that category.”

When told the award typically goes to the best player on one of the two best teams in the league from a regular season win-loss perspective, Paul seemed fine with that.

“Obviously you need to be winning games, because if you’re the most valuable then you play a part in making your teammates better and winning games,” he said. “You can’t win 20-some games and think you’re most valuable, because obviously you’re not, then.”

While Paul was humble in discussing his MVP worthiness, he was willing to talk up the position he plays, and emphasized his belief of how important it is to a given team’s overall success.

“The point guard position is the toughest position in the NBA right now,” he said. “And it’s been that way for a nice little while. I always said, everyone in the NBA is talented; some are more talented than others. At the point guard position you never have a night off. You never have a night off.

“Most nights, every night you play, the point guard is going to be the go-to guy — the guy that you’ve got to slow down in order to slow down the team.”

There’s virtually no way Paul passes LeBron or Durant in MVP voting unless his Clippers go on an incredible tear in the second half of season that finds the team with the one seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. And even then, if James continues his insane level of play, there might not be anything stopping him from taking home the award for the fourth time in his career.

Paul is certainly aware of this, which is likely the reason he’s not entertaining thoughts of his chances this season. But when you look at the way his Clippers have played both with and without him, there’s no question he’s in that conversation.

  1. maddogg911 - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    CP3 is turning Los Angeles into Clipper town. The clippers are the only team out there who can beat the Heat in a 7 game series.

    • eventhorizon04 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      Disagreed.

      There are a few teams in each conference who pose threats to the Heat. I’m not saying I’d bet against the Heat if they played against these teams, but I wouldn’t be *shocked* if they did beat the Heat in a 7-game series, the way I’d be shocked if, say, the Bucks beat the Heat:

      In the East – Bulls (if Rose comes back), Pacers (if Danny Granger is back at full-health), and Knicks (if they’re hitting their 3′s)

      In the West – OKC (if they stop resorting to iso-ball on offense so much), Clippers (good athleticism and depth), and Spurs (the best way to beat the Heat’s aggressive defense is with excellent passing, which is the Spurs’ specialty)

      • eventhorizon04 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:51 PM

        I wanted to put the Celtics in as a potential challenger to the Heat, but in the playoffs, Rajon Rondo was always the guy who *killed* the Heat.

        Especially in last year’s playoff series, Rondo versus the Heat’s point guards (Chalmers/Cole) was the Celtics’ biggest mismatch.

        So while the Celtics did beat the Heat without Rondo a couple of weeks ago, I really don’t think the Celtics can beat the Heat in a 7-game series (with the Heat having home-court advantage) without Rondo. It’s also important to remember that after that game, the Celtics lost Jared Sullinger (who had started playing really well recently and hurts their big-man rotation) and Barbosa (which has left them with very little guard depth) for the rest of the season.

      • dko83 - Feb 16, 2013 at 2:28 AM

        Completely agree. Rondo in the playoffs is not the same as Rondo during the regular season. He gave them a legitimate shot. Heat PGs would’ve gotten torched and Lebron would’ve had to carry the team on his back (which he probably would have because he’s Lebron).

    • dko83 - Feb 16, 2013 at 4:46 AM

      I imagine, and I’m only guessing here, Spurs and Thunder fans say: You high?

  2. Gordon - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    I can’t stand LeBron, but there’s no question he is the MVP & best player in the league. It’s not even close.

    • gswgoboom - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      As a warriors fan, looking at the MVP race objectively, I gotta say that Durant even being in the discussion is ridiculous. Lebron is not only the greatest in the world right now, but he could EASILY go down one day as the greatest of all time. Yeah…he’s that good. If Durant was playing the way Lebron was playing right now, there would be no discussion. Since people hate Lebron (for no reason), there is a debate. Quit hating and witness greatness.

  3. lemfax - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    That’s why Lebron is a point guard too…

  4. eventhorizon04 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    My personal MVP list, with around 30 games to go, is:

    1. LeBron
    2. Durant
    3. CP3
    4. Tony Parker
    5. Carmelo

    So Chris Paul is definitely in the conversation, but his chances really depend on the Clippers going on a tear their final 26 games.
    If after struggling for a couple of weeks without CP3, the Clippers go on a monster stretch with 20+ wins to finish off the year, Chris Paul’s MVP candidacy would gain a lot of steam.

    • dannymac17 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      They are more than able to go on that tear

    • dko83 - Feb 16, 2013 at 2:26 AM

      I hate to admit this, because I along with David Stern hate the Spurs, but.. Tony Parker is 2nd right now.

  5. rickyspanish - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    maddogg911

    You’re funny.

  6. maddogg911 - Feb 16, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Ricky Spanish…..won’t be funny when you see the clippers hoisting the trophy!!! This is clipper time

  7. rickyspanish - Feb 16, 2013 at 5:20 AM

    maddogg911

    You’re still funny.

  8. maddogg911 - Feb 16, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Ricky Spanish …… You must be a t’wolve fan

  9. dysraw1 - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    I look at it like this where would the Clips, be without CP3 vying for another 1st rounder. truth.

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