In all respects, Paul is one of the best pointers to ever play the sport, and he is arguably the greatest passer of his time. But his death failed at the most critical moment. He averages 8.8 assists per game in the NBA Finals, barely below his 8.9 regular-season average, but his turnovers have dropped from 2.2 to 3.6. In both games in Milwaukee, Paul made nine turnovers against 16 assists. Much of this is due to the defense of Jrue Holiday and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Still, if Paul is to force a Home Game 7 in Phoenix and give himself a shot at winning his first career NBA Championship, he will need to play like the player who has the well-deserved reputation as an NBA Grandmaster. chessboard. He’s a player who has seen all the defensive covers and figured out how to beat them all. Paul is able to use his dribbling to squeeze into the end zone and manipulate the layout of defenders before always making the right play for his team.
Throughout this season, Paul led the Suns offense with near perfect precision, involving everyone every night. He’s the passer for the team’s top four assistant-scorer duos, and it doesn’t matter if Paul sets up a star or a role player; he gets them all the buckets easily – but not easily enough in a 3-2 Suns track series, which sees them face elimination on Tuesday night in Milwaukee (9 p.m. ET on ABC and the ESPN app).
When performing at his best, Paul can get some easy shots from Deandre Ayton in the paint (the former No.1 pick overall has hit a career high 62.6% this season). Paul can get a clean Devin Booker look on the sweaters (Booker has shot 53.1% between 10 and 16 feet this season). Paul can set up an open 3-pointer for Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder, both of whom saw their 3-point shooting percentages increase significantly from the previous season.
This diversity of performance earned Paul his nickname “Point God”; he can do it all, and he has been doing it for almost two full decades.
Between the regular season and the playoffs, Paul recorded a staggering 11,332 assists for 137 different teammates. A quick look at the top of this list is more than a trip down memory lane. It’s also a reminder of the many ways in which Paul, when working at full blast, is able to smash any defense, even one as strong and complex as the one Milwaukee has thrown at him in recent games.
1. Blake Griffin : 1 318 passes décisives
So it’s no surprise that Paul’s most frequent assists target is his teammate who himself coined the term “Lob City” in 2011. Over 10% of Paul’s career assists have gone to Griffin; Among active players, only the Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant combo resulted in more assists than those created by Paul when setting up Griffin. The two stars spent six years with the LA Clippers, forming one of the most typical pick-and-roll couples of a gaming-obsessed era.
Between 2011 and 2017, Paul would dribble around Griffin’s screens, read defensive covers, and go fetch buckets. While the duo shared several playoff disappointments and ultimately broke up when Paul was traded to Houston, many of Griffin’s career highlights came at the end of Point God’s dime business.
Four of Griffin’s six All-Star appearances came when Paul was his teammate. His best season came in 2013-14, when he averaged 24.1 points per game while converting 52.8% of his shots en route to a third place in the MVP vote, behind only Durant and LeBron James. . That season, Paul’s pick-and-roll at Griffin was by far the most prolific in the league. They were the only pair to have an average of 20 picks per game, and of the 47 duos that hosted at least 500 picks that season, they placed fourth in overall effectiveness. Griffin scored 9.3 of his 24.1 points per game directly from Paul’s assists.
2. David West: 1,188 assists
Before Lob City, Paul’s favorite audience target was West, one of the great pick-and-pop artisans of his day. Paul led the league in assists during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, and West, who mixed tenacity and finesse as a power forward, was the biggest recipient of each of those campaigns.
Unlike Griffin, who more often than not turned a screen for Paul into a shot at the rim, West has found similar success in finishing his screens by drifting to the perimeter for the types of 20-foot jumpers who are more and more rarer in the modern NBA. At the time, however, they made West the perfect match for Paul.
Paul’s ability to adapt to where his reviewers prefer their shots -om Western pick-and-pop to Griffin pick-and-roll to a modern game that favors 3-point shooters – has been one the characteristics of his death. shine. He has remained one of the best playmakers in the league, despite those games looking very different now than they were when he was back in New Orleans.
3. JJ Redick: 701 assists
As ACC college rivals, Paul and Redick didn’t really adore each other. But a decade after facing big college basketball games, these two didn’t just become teammates, they became one of the best wrestling and shoot tandems at the exact moment the league fell in love with the 3s.
No related pairing for more than 3 made in 2014-15 or 2015-16. Redick sank exactly 200 3s in those two seasons. Paul attended more than half of them.
Redick is one of the best catch and shoot partners a modern shooting creator could ask for, and the point god has taken full advantage of Redick’s unique ability to break loose from a loop, catch a pass, and to reliably transform this capture into a deadeye jumper at breakneck speed. Redick may have lived on the outskirts of Lob City, but he still wreaked havoc in the suburbs.
4. DeAndre Jordan, 633 assists
Alley-oops were once relatively rare in professional basketball, but now they are commonplace. Just ask Paul, who was on the wrong side of a devastating lob game at the end of Game 5 of these Finals.
Perhaps no pair of teammates in league history have helped normalize the lob as a tactical weapon as much as Paul and Jordan. From 2011-12 to 2016-17, CP3 assisted on 369 alley-oops (including the playoffs), nearly 100 more than any other player. Jordan finished 277 of them, helping him lead the NBA in field goal percentage for five consecutive seasons. There were two main reasons for this. First, almost all of Jordan’s shots were dunks and layups. Second, he was playing with Paul, who split the defenses and perfected the passes that put Jordan on the edge.
Before landing at Clipperland, Paul regularly threw lobs at Tyson Chandler, who shot 62.3% from the field in his first two seasons as Paul’s teammate in New Orleans. Jordan has taken being a lob threat to another level, literally. In his heyday, Jordan was one of the most productive great rim racers in the world. Alongside Griffin and Redick, he helped ensure these Clippers teams had perfect basketball geometry.
It’s not that different from what the Suns have been doing this season, until these last three games, which put them on the brink of elimination. Ayton has proven to be a great lob target (just ask the Clippers), while Booker, Bridges and Crowder provide solid jumping shots around the edges. James Jones took home the League’s Executive of the Year award, largely due to his acquisition of Paul in the last offseason, but Paul was just the last step in unlocking the best version of the list Jones had already put together.
If this roster can come together and perform at its peak in these next two games, the Suns will not only bring an NBA title to Phoenix for the first time, they will also solidify Paul’s status as one of the greatest. modern day playmakers.