When Chris Paul entered the NBA, many looked at him as a great point guard in the making. His vision was excellent, his defense frustrating as an opponent and his will to win was second to none as some viewed him. Some even thought that he would be this generation’s Isaiah Thomas with the skills he possessed. It was almost a no-brainer to some people that he would someday lead a team to the NBA title. It was just a matter of who would select him and benefit from his play to many scouts who watched and evaluated Paul. But things did not work out the way Paul wanted them to. Paul is now a 29 year old point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers. His stint in New Orleans was not as successful as he would have thought. And even though he has brought more credibility to the Los Angeles Clippers since he was traded there before the 2011 season, there still seems to be something hanging over Paul’s head.
Chris Paul has been an excellent regular season point guard during his NBA career. Each year could count on Chris Paul to get buckets as well as dish the basketball to his teammates. Paul has the ability to make players around him better, which is not something that many can't say they have in the NBA. During his career in New Orleans, he made Tyson Chandler an offensive weapon. And Chandler is not the only one that Paul has made look great on the court. During the regular season, it's great to watch Paul shoot and pass his teams to wins on a consistent basis. But when it came to the playoffs, it seemed like it was a different story for Paul. He would put up the usual numbers in terms of assists and points, but it just seemed like he could not get over that hump of winning in the playoff consistently for whatever reason. It seems like Paul is always exiting the playoffs in the first or second round. As talented as he is, he has never made a Conference Finals at all. And with the playoffs starting today, it is not looking hopeful for the Clippers to beat the defending NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs. If they are to lose, you can expect the scrutiny to heighten on Chris Paul. Even though it may not be all on his shoulders, he will probably receive the lion’s share of the criticism because he was supposed to be the superstar that helped put the Clippers over the top. But instead, he is battling his own playoff demons while trying to be the best leader he can.
The outcome of this series for Paul versus the Spurs will tell us a lot about him going forward. To many, he has been an underachiever throughout his career. He has put up numbers but done nothing in the playoffs at all. Being that he turns 30 during the playoffs this season, time is running short on Paul and what he wants to be his defining legacy. As it stands right now, Paul is considered by many to be a great leader and player that has never done much when it counted. Paul will be counted on to make the big plays for the Clippers in this year's playoffs. Even though he has another All-Star on his team in Blake Griffin, it has been shown time and time again that if the Clippers are to go anywhere, Paul has to be clutch down the stretch of games. And quite honestly, he has dropped the ball a few times and those situations have been blown up into bigger-than-life stories. Paul has done some good things in the playoffs, but the bad has completely shut many out to those things at all. If Paul is to change the narrative, this is the time. He is playing against the defending World Champions, the Spurs. If he is to lead the Clippers over the Spurs, then this Los Angeles team will have a confidence boost going forward that they can beat anyone in their way. But the key thing for Paul is time is running short. And as time is running short, the narrative is becoming a reality for all of us and likely a nightmare to Chris Paul. Until he can shake that narrative, then he will be known as a great regular season point guard that wilts in the big moments in the postseason. And it is realistic to think that he may not ever shake it before his career is over. It’s unfortunate for Paul, but those are the realities when most consider Paul to be the best point guard in the NBA. It should be interesting to see how he does when the pressure comes upon him. Welcome to the playoffs Chris Paul. Let’s see if you stay a while. The clock is ticking.