Late last year, Chris Paul’s basketball fate seemed doomed. He’s been one of the best players ever, to be sure: a 10-time All-Star, a nine-time All-NBA performer, a six-time Robbery Champion, a former All-Star Player of the Year, and a confirmed future Hall of Fame. Fame member. But he will also be remembered as one of the best players who never appeared in The NBA FinalsNot to mention winning a championship. Every single Paul team — since the start of his career with the New Orleans Hornets, his long run with the Los Angeles Clippers, then short stops with the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder — have dropped out in the Conference Finals or before. Even that lessened the difficulties his squad faced. Paul didn’t even play in a conference final until 2018, when the Rockets lost in seven games to the Golden State Warriors, who won the championship that year.
In November, the Thunder team replaced Paul with the Phoenix Suns, a talented but shaky team that had finished 10th in the Western Conference. Paul was 35 years old (he’s now 36) and seemed destined to ride until sunset without the championship ring.
But things can change quickly. The Suns turned out to be really good, and finished second in the conference in the regular season. They took their play to another level in the playoffs, reaching the finals by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Clippers. They didn’t need more than six games to knock out any of those teams, and they looked strong as they advanced 1-0 in the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
Paul has been a major part of the Suns’ success. Although a Disturbing shoulder injury Which caused him to lose twice in two games, he averaged 19 points, 8.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds – a solid nightly contribution. And in Game One of the Finals, Paul was in good shape, earning 32 points, nine assists, and four plates against Milwaukee:
It’s been a long time coming, but Paul is finally starting to get the NBA championship. Here’s a deeper look at how things affected him in Phoenix.
Paul and Devin Booker complement each other well.
The biggest star in the Snows these days isn’t Paul. It’s Booker, who averaged 26 points per game in the regular season and increased that to 27 points in the playoffs. 36-year-old Paul and 24-year-old Booker own Unusually large age gap For a conference finalist backyard, but the generation gap didn’t stop them from playing well with each other.
Paul is good at making his own dribbling shots. Booker is clearly happy to have another goalkeeper who can do this, removing some of the offensive burden from his shoulders:
And when Paul penetrates into defense, Booker often waits for a kick-off pass. help Paul Scored 26 of Booker’s 155 field goals In the playoffs – twice as many as anyone else on the Phoenix roster. on the other side, All but 11 of Paul’s 106 shots were He receives no help, as he dodges for a while and tries to put his cannons on skis. Paul and Booker have different playing styles, but they work well together.
The depth of the sun means that Paul should not crush himself.
One of Paul’s biggest benefits this season has been Cameron Payne’s backup point Upgrading to a reliable second choice. When Payne replaces Paul in the Suns squad, the team’s net efficiency between attack and defense Doesn’t change much. (Payne was great in the first game against the Bucks, scoring 10 points in 17 minutes.)
You could think of that as a hit on Paul, but doing so misses the point. Paul is 36. He’s not as agile as before, and Pine’s appearance has helped him stay fresh. Paul plays 33 minutes per game in this playoff, a far cry from his early career, when he played over 40 minutes per game.
Paul plays a frenetic style, frantically running and dribbling when he has the ball and chasing opposing goalkeepers when the other team has possession of the ball. It’s easiest to do when he can take a breather, and the Suns manage to give him plenty without jeopardizing their chances.
This strategy also paid off at the end of the games. Paul’s second-half effective field goal percentage in these playoffs is 60.2, Up from just 44.3 in the first half. In the first game against Milwaukee, he didn’t score in the first quarter and somehow ended up with 32 points anyway.
In a list of many outstanding scorers, Paul has rediscovered his touch in the gaming industry.
Paul will go down as one of the gaming industry’s best keepers of all time. However, his ability to set up didn’t shine in the past two years, when he teamed up in a backyard with James Harden in Houston and then tried to establish a lousy Thunder team.
Paul’s pass rates in those years (the percentage of team baskets a player assists on the floor) were uncharacteristically low, including a career-worst 34 percent in Oklahoma City last year. jump to 41 percent this year, which is more in line with its typical excellence.
It helps in getting good outlets for the ball. Paul 131 assists in qualifying, 36 went to Deandre Ayton Center, 26 to Booker, 22 to Jae Crowder’s ward, and 22 to directing Mikal Bridges. Regardless of everyone else on the ground, Paul feels comfortable giving them the ball. Eaton described Paul’s arrival in Phoenix as “the best thing that has happened in my career.”
It was probably the best thing that happened to Suns in general. Now Paul is three wins from finalizing an unforgettable career.
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