I try not to pretend to be a basketball savant; I can barely hit a 15-foot jump shot and my left-hand dribble is not existent. I know nothing compared to some of the best minds in the game. Men like Gregg Popovich, LeBron James and Chris Paul.
The later of those three has just moved to Houston in a sign and trade deal to combine CP3 with James Harden to form a backcourt to rival any in the NBA. On paper this is a great deal; two of the best guards in the business combining their incredible skill set should be a spectacle to see. With my small amount of insight though, for me it wasn’t the best move for Paul if he wanted to win a ring.
He should’ve gone somewhere else in Texas; San Antonio. Here are my 3 reasons why.
3. Only One Ball
It’s called basketball, not basketballs. There is only one ball to play with and only one player can have the ball in his hands at one time. Adding Chris Paul to go play with James Harden is like adding a factory worker to a machine that only needs one person to work and you’ve already got a guy who knows what he’s doing.
Chris Paul and James Harden are two of the premier guards in the league. They both are tremendous ball-handlers and are excellent at making decisions for their teams, but they are so similar that I think their game-style will clash rather than mesh.
To me, the most effective shooting guard in the league is Klay Thompson because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands for long in order to be effective. Last season for a player who played at least 60 games or more, Klay was second in the NBA in points per touch of the basketball at 0.462. He’s so effective that he was able to score 60 points against the Pacers whilst only holding the ball for a total of 90 seconds.
Klay just catches and shoots and his effectiveness has been key to the Warrior’s three consecutive Finals appearances and two rings. He allows Steph Curry and Draymond Green to handle the ball because that’s their strengths.
Paul and Harden both need the ball in their hands for them to be effective. They were both in the top 10 for average touches in the NBA last season. When the two are on the court together one of them is going to become a spot-up shooter, something neither of them is used to.
Only 31.7% of Harden’s threes were assisted last year and he ranked 98th in catch and shoot 3 point percentage. I imagine that both he and Paul will become a more efficient spot up shooters, they’ll have to be for it to have a chance to work, but they will both have to get used to deferring to each other.
2. Kawhi Leonard
I will never get over the fact that the Spurs had the Warriors on the ropes in game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, up 76-55. Then Zaza frickin' Pachulia happened. Who knows what would’ve happened in that series if Kawhi went down. He had 26 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes of action and the Spurs looked to be taking home court advantage.
Then he went down injured and the series was over from then on.
I’ve mentioned it before in previous articles and I’ll say it again; to win in this league you need a versatile small forward. The last 6 Finals MVPs have all been such player and Kawhi Leonard is a top three small-forward. He is the best individual defender in the league and his offensive game grows by the day.
1. Gregg Popovich
As I mentioned in the introduction Gregg Popovich is a basketball genius. The man is easily the best coach of all time as proven by the fact that he hasn't missed the playoffs since 1998. He has this formula for picking the players he wants and nurturing them into champions. His teams are always in contention to win that year’s title and you’d be a fool to put your money against him.
San Antonio needs a new starting point guard as Tony Parker is going to be 35 with a torn quadriceps muscle and a game based on his speed and quickness. Adding CP3 was the obvious choice for me. They get the ball-handler and decision maker they need, plus someone who would immediately respect coach Pop and would be more than willing to work with him to improve his game.
The Spurs also have a great bench with Patty Mills, Jonathon Simmons, Pau Gasol and David Lee and some great starters in Leonard as mentioned as well as Danny Green and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Chris Paul in San Antonio seemed like a match we’d only have in our dreams, too bad we have to wake up.