Arguably the two greatest #4 picks in NBA history are Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, both superstar point guards who are going straight into the Hall of Fame. While Chris Paul is regarded as one of the greatest playmakers and floor generals to ever do it, Westbrook has astronomical stats and has won an MVP Award. Russ has so many individual accolades that might make him seem the greater player.
But Chris Paul is a better point guard and a better player. Chris Paul never managed to win an MVP Award for his regular-season efforts, but the way he goes about the game and delivers in pivotal moments means he's the better player. Here are the top 5 reasons why Chris Paul is better than Russell Westbrook.
5. Always In Control
Russell Westbrook prides himself on going 100 mph on a nightly basis. He often doesn't see what is in front of him, taking his physical gifts to dominate his matchup. Offensively, Russell Westbrook is simply unguardable when he attacks the rim. But Russ still has not figured out how and when to be out of control. In fact, he doesn't even need to be out of control. Russ is so gifted athletically that he can pick and choose his spots.
Chris Paul does not have this issue. He is not as athletic as Russ but is always in control. CP3 has mastered the game and knows when to get everyone involved and when to score the ball. Paul does not rush into his decisions, takes his time in picking apart a defense, and always makes the right play. He is also not as turnover prone as Russell Westbrook, averaging only 2.4 TPG compared to Westbrook 4.1 TPG.
Without a doubt, Chris Paul is a better pure playmaker than Russell Westbrook. Westbrook might have extremely high assist numbers on any given night, but that is because he is supremely gifted at attacking the paint and attracting attention. But there is a difference between getting assists and being a playmaker.
Chris Paul sets his teammates up perfectly in the flow of an offense, giving them the confidence to continue taking and making shots. He runs plays to perfection and makes the right pass to the right guy. This often results in "hockey assists", which is the pass that leads to an assist. Paul is one of the best pure playmakers ever, and he does not have to force the issue to get his assists.
Russell Westbrook has the physical gifts and desire to go after steals, but Chris Paul is a legitimate lockdown defender. Paul averages 2.2 SPG and is a 6-time Steals Champion. Chris Paul has also made 9 All-Defensive Teams and is one of the best bulldog defenders ever. Chris Paul can body up against his opposition, get to the spots they want to go, and make life difficult for them on defense.
Russell Westbrook averages 1.7 SPG for his career and has not made an All-Defensive Team once in his career. Westbrook tends to dominate the ball offensively and exert a ton of energy on that end, leaving him with a more relaxed demeanor on defense. Paul is always in control, so he can play both ends.
As the great Charles Barkley says on a nightly basis, Chris Paul is the best leader in the NBA. And anyone can hardly debate that. Paul is an example for all point guards coming into the game because he is very unselfish on the floor but also very demanding. He is a master of the game so he expects a high-level performance from all his teammates on a nightly basis. Paul is focused, driven, and works harder than most players so he is an exceptional leader.
Russell Westbrook leads through his play, and he also works incredibly hard on his body and stamina to keep going at 100% every night. But he is not the leader that Chris Paul is. Russ is very turnover prone, takes bad shots, and is a bit stand-offish. Chris Paul is a natural leader and there is a reason why he is the head of the Players Union in the NBA.
1. Crunch Time
The number one reason that Chris Paul is better than Russell Westbrook is that Paul gets it done in the clutch. Many will argue that Paul has never been to the NBA Finals while Russ has, but Paul never had Kevin Durant on his team. Paul has had to take and make big shots all his career, and he often comes through. As evidenced by his game-winner against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2015 playoffs, or even the back-to-back three-pointers vs the Houston Rockets in Game 6 last night, Paul can make any shot at any time. His shooting percentages are higher than Russ (37.0% vs 30.5% from three) and his decision making is miles better.
Westbrook is very turnover prone and he can literally brick shots when he misses them. Although he is more gifted than Paul and plays harder in terms of energy, he can be very out of control on offense and on defense. He can rush into bad shots or bad passes and can gamble on steals. Russ struggles with calming down and taking over in the clutch, something Chris Paul has mastered throughout his 15 seasons in the league.