Every once in a while we’re allowed to see greatness. Every NBA generation that comes along has its own niche and role, and always a select few special enough to be considered great players.
Sometimes greatness isn’t acknowledged. Sometimes it simply gets overlooked. In sports, we tend to value wins and championships when it comes to individual success. Sure, winning is a good barometer for a player’s success, but it should never be the end of the argument. We miss out on players like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Karl Malone and others because of our thirst for championships and a great narrative. Everyone loves a great story. But every great player can’t ride off into the sunset.
As recent as last season, there were people who doubted the greatness of LeBron James. The book on him was that he couldn’t win the game in the fourth quarter. He didn’t have the killer instinct needed to win an NBA title. This was a guy who was a fixture in the All-Star Game for years — a guy who would eventually win his third MVP. His numbers did the talking for him. A championship was only a cherry on top — it didn’t solidify him. He was already an established presence in NBA history.
That brings me to Chris Paul. He’s one of the most underappreciated players in this generation (even All-Stars can be overlooked). Paul has always been the best point guard in the NBA. He’s never had a PER below 22 — even in his rookie year. That speaks volumes about his efficiency and effectiveness. He’s always been one of the most efficient, well rounded players in the league. His career averages are 18.6 points, 9.8 assists, 2.4 steals and 4.4 rebounds per game. He’s averaged 47 percent shooting from the field for his career with a 25.5 career PER, according to Basketball-Reference.
Yet, with Paul, there’s always someone else. In 2010 it was Derrick Rose. Before that, Steve Nash was at the top after winning two straight MVPs — and deservingly so — but Chris Paul wasn’t always in the conversation. For the past year, Russell Westbrook‘s been touted by many as the position’s top dog. We’re seeing the same thing with Paul again this year.
Throughout social networks and even on NBA shows, people are saying that Tony Parker is the best point guard in the league, most loudly after San Antonio blew out L.A. recently and Parker outscored Paul 31-4. Parker deserves to be in the MVP conversation, but he’s nowhere near as good as Chris Paul — not even in this season.
Parker is averaging 21.1 points with 7.6 assists per game in 33 minutes of play. He’s shooting nearly 54 percent from the field and has a 24.7 PER, fourth in the NBA. That’s still worse than CP3.
PER isn’t the only measure of a great season, but Paul has Parker beat in many other categories as well. He’s assisting on 46 percent of his team shots as opposed to Parker’s 41 percent; his 22.1 usage rate is six points lower than Parker’s 28.2; his offensive rating of 127 is eight points higher than Parker’s 119 and his defensive rating of 101 is lower (better) than Parker’s 105.