Hollinger: It’s a god point qualifier. Here’s how Chris Paul dominated post-season

Who was the best player in the NBA playoffs so far?

You can make several defensible choices. Jayson Tatum was great in the first round, chasing Kevin Durant shooting with a 38.6 percent shot while leading the Celtics to a first-round sweep. His opponent in the second round, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was a devastating two-way force, pressing passes when he wouldn’t crush paint. Ja Morant’s highlight reel was ridiculous, imagining owner Beasley and leaving Jordan Ball’s knees wobbling. Jimmy Butler, very quietly, put together a great post-season, too.

However, none of these players may be the best player in this post-season, as they were as amazing and oddly talented as they are. The star of this playoff so far is… 6-0 point guard and he’s 37?

charity. With eight games, Point God puts together video game stats. Chris Paul shoots 58.0 percent from the ground with a mind-boggling 67.8% shooting rate and delivers six assists per spin. Among the players still alive in the playoffs, he ranks second after Butler in the PER post-season. The Suns has an offensive rating of 125.5 with Paul on the field this post-season and is outdone by 14.2 points per 100 possessions when off the ground.

His first round against New Orleans was impressive enough. (Shout out to the Pelicans, by the way; this Dallas streak shows just how strong their first-round performance was.) Paul provided double-digit assists in their first five games, allowing the Suns to ignore Devin Booker’s three-game absence, then bring the curtain down on Game 6 with a playoff showing on launch. Amazingly, he shot 14-for-14 from the field without ever hitting the edge, instead clocking in at his mid-range around the elbows. For good measure, he went 4 for 4 off the line as well. The sun needed every one of those buckets; They only win six.

Next time you hear a broadcaster grumble about the lost middle-class art, show him this picture from Paul’s Game 6 against the Pelicans. This is the Mona Lisa chart:

He didn’t lose any power in the second round either. Poole rocked softly in the background in Game 1, with 19 effective points in 28 minutes, and dialed things in in Game Two on Wednesday when the game hangs in the balance. The Point God patiently waited for his time for most of the first three quarters as he waited for Luka Dončić of Dallas to run his tank empty. Then, in one of the most brutal targeting actions you’ll ever see, Paul and the Suns continued to confront him. every playwhile the drunken Dončić could hardly take a stand, let alone stop them.

like him:

(Also note the subtlety there: Paul momentarily turns his gaze toward the baseline, causing defender Maxi Clipper to think he might throw an open alley and wipe his runway toward the edge. The idea of ​​catching Bismack Biyombo.)

Paul scored 14 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter in Phoenix’s 129-109 win in Game Two, and – in true CP3 fashion – also made an offensive foul in the backcourt against Galen Bronson. He quickly turned his six-point revolution into a blast that allowed him to rest in the 5:45 final.

Behind all these great performances lies an underappreciated story: Paul diversified his offensive offensive. As my fellow podcaster Nate Duncan noted on Twitter during Bull’s eruption, he’s outgrown his decade-long diet of mid-range pull-ups to the right and dug deeper into his bag of runners and floats, so he can score from different areas other than just his elbows.

Watch this short clip from Wednesday night, for example: Going to his left, shooting from the baseline. This is a spot on Earth that he rarely attacks for most of his career, and has rarely fired:

This circling Dončić – I was waiting for someone on the Mavs bench to throw a white towel onto the court at this point – is another example. For most of his career, Paul would turn the track in a play like this and drift toward the right side of the fairway with his dribble, completing it by leaning backwards to steer clear of his patented middle team, and instead, keep moving forward and fall into a small buoy while taking damage.

The data supports the idea that Paul changed his playing style this year. According to Cleaning the Glass, 33 percent of his shots this year were “short-mid” (4 to 14 feet), and only 36 percent were “long-mid” (14 feet to 3-point line). While Paul isn’t nearly over the edge anymore – just 5 per cent of his shots have come there this year, the lowest mark in his career and far from it. 0 percent Among point guards – this rate from short – medium to long – medium is noticeable. Recently, in 2016-2017, he took more than twice as many shots from that long and mid-range. Aside from a two-year layover on the midrange while on the 3-and-rim system in Houston, he’s never shot such a large chunk of mids close to the edge:

Chris Paul, FGA ratio by range

year a team short mid middle long Rate
2012-13

Latin America and the Caribbean

21

34

0.62

2016-17

Latin America and the Caribbean

15th

38

0.39

2019-20

OKC

27

32

0.84

2020-21

PHX

26

38

0.68

2021-22

PHX

33

36

0.92

Source: glass cleaning

It also shoots better than ever on those shots. If you’re a fixture that doesn’t hit the edge, you better be great at the other shots, and Paul qualifies. His 55 percent conversion rate on these short brokers is the best rate of his career; His overall score of 55 percent on 2s non-paint is also the best of his career, not to mention absolutely insane for any player at any point in his career.

Chris Paul Medring FG%

year a team short mid middle long Total

2012-13

Latin America and the Caribbean

51

50

50

2016-17

Latin America and the Caribbean

52

50

51

2019-20

OKC

53

51

52

2020-21

PHX

55

52

53

2021-22

PHX

55

55

55

Source: glass cleaning

The overall graph of Paul’s shots still tilts more to the right than the Tower at Pisa, but look at those groups outside the charging circle in the graphic below. Somehow, in his heyday, he’s making more effective use of these sites than ever before, as this infographic of his last 750 shots of cleaning glass shows:

Finally, this “37” part is more special than you might realize. Between Tom Brady, Mariano Rivera and LeBron James, we acclimated to the idea of ​​great athletes who extended into later periods of their careers; James may be the first team in the NBA this year and is half a year older than Paul.

But for a player the size of Paul, doing so is completely unprecedented. The two biggest predictors of job longevity are size and ability to pay; While Paul has the latter in spades, the former is somewhat lacking. Regular-sized people only succeed in the NBA if they are very fast, and as a result, most young players fade away quickly once they miss a step.

Think of the great young guards in league history and how their age went into their 30s. Isaiah Thomas was out of the league at age 33. Allen Iverson was complaining about his role on the bench at Memphis at 34. Taney Archibald was an All-Star at 33 but finished the season at 35. Lenny Wilkins was considered a wizard because he was still starting at 36 yeah John Stockton played until he was 90, but was a little older (6-1, for a goalkeeper, a great tank). Aside from Stockton, the only real example of longevity from a player as young as Paul is Kyle Lowry, who is a year younger than Paul and whose stats haven’t nearly equaled the past three seasons.

In fact here, for your perusal, the full list of rangers 6-0 or less for a near-all-star production (PER over 18 in at least 1500 minutes) after age 33:

Source: Stathead.com

(Side note: Remember when we thought he washed up after the 2018-2019 season in Houston? What a good time to be alive.)

Partly as a result of his shot evaluation and partly as a result of his generally insane longevity, Paul now finds himself in an incredible position: perhaps the most valuable player in the playoffs so far in the loaded Phoenix side who could possibly win the championship. The first franchise championship.

Of course, we all know the sordid long history of both Suns and Paul in the playoffs, and that story is still being written. Perhaps there’s another postseason booby trap around the corner—a few fingers in a shirt or an ill-timed nosebleed that once again leads to heartbreak. However, through eight playoffs, the Suns have racked up 10 wins from the coveted prize… and unbelievably, 6-0 in length, and now the 37-year-old is leading them there.


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(Photo: Stephen Low/USA Today)

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