Despite eight All-NBA nods, nine All-Defensive team appearances and a resume worthy of the Hall of Fame if he retired today, Chris Paul has faced scrutiny for his playoff shortcomings. After all, the Houston guard had not led a team to even the Conference Finals over the course of his first 12 years in the league and, because of his impressive body of work, those failures rest at his feet in the minds of many evaluating the game.
However, Paul was utterly tremendous in leading the Rockets to a series-clinching, Game 5 win over the Utah Jazz. He even made some statistical history with his performance. It was the kind of game that served as a reminder that the narrative arc surrounding Paul’s perceived individual failures in the postseason are generally flawed.
In short, Chris Paul hasn’t been bad in the NBA Playoffs. In fact, he’s been quite good over an 86-game postseason sample. To illustrate this, let’s look at the numbers: In 892 regular season games, Paul averages 18.7 points, 9.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, while posting fantastic efficiency via a 25.6 PER and a 58.1 percent true shooting. In the aforementioned 86 postseason games, a similar story is told. Paul averages 21.5 points, 9.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game while putting up a 58.5 percent true shooting and a 25.7 PER.
In short, both sets of numbers are tremendous (if not eerily similar) and, considering Paul’s overall profile as a regular season player doesn’t appear to be in question, it is odd that his individual playoff performance has been. Of course, athletes (and NBA players, in particular) are judged heavily on team success and, as the entire theme in this space dictates, it just hasn’t been there.