It all went to hell just after the Steve Kerr noted that Chris Paul had 36 assists and 1 turnover over the last three games. He promptly turned it over twice, but that was a minor shart to the explosive diarrhea that ran down the leg of his reputation in the final thirty seconds of game five.
Up two with under twenty seconds to play and the shot clock off, Paul mysteriously coughed up the ball as Russel Westbrook approached to foul him. After some horrendous officiating, OKC inbounded the ball and Paul put himself in harm’s way on Westbrook’s ill-advised three pointer and was called for a foul. Down one, Paul came off a high ball screen, bypassed an open look at the elbow to drive into the timbers and lose the ball as time expired. A stunning display of ineptitude at the worst of times.
Chris Paul is regarded as the game’s best point guard, an inspiring leader and genuine winner. When healthy, he posts an outrageous player efficiency rating and is unquestionably the best player in the League at his height. Yet, he is a polarizing player who’s true value is difficult to assess.
He is often injured, albeit mostly with nagging injuries, despite the fact he hardly plays with the reckless abandon of Russell Westbrook or dare I say Allen Iverson.
He generates a lot of assists, but that seems more readily tied to his ball-dominating play, rather than any infectious passing. He controls the tempo of the game like a North Korean Minister of Media seldom pushing tempo or creating uncontested baskets. Many of his passes are followed with an immediate demand for the ball back. This likely explains the difficulty the Clippers had playing with him last year.
To say he is pre-occupied with the officiating is an understatement. He often functions as a de facto fourth official on the floor with a disturbing propensity to exaggerate even the smallest of bumps into a whiplash-inducing motor vehicle accident which may or may not contribute to his aforementioned shaky health.
His particular brand of leadership is high on gesticulations and scowling which cements his reputation as a ferocious competitor, but low on actual results….a couple of decent regular season records and one play off series win as a Clipper.
In summation, he is a terrific basketball player, but consumed with an on court persona that wreaks of a Napoleanic complex that ultimately compels him to do more than he is capable doing. Until he learns to recalibrate that persona, he is destined to fall short of his goals.