Derrick Rose, the only other point guard worthy of being in the conversation when healthy, isn't healthy. He got the spotlight for a year when he won the MVP. He needs to be healthy before he can reestablish himself as part of the conversation.
Even healthy, Rose has never shown that he can have the same kind of consistent passing numbers that Paul has, although he's established he's a better scorer. While Rose comes the closest to Paul with the advanced metrics, Paul still is the better point guard.
Rajon Rondo is a terrific passer like Paul, and with his double-digit assist streak and heroic postseason performance, he grabbed the spotlight last year. He's also a great defender the way that Paul is. The problem is that he doesn't score on the level that Paul does.
Yes, he scored well during the postseason, but until he maintains it for 82 games, it's just an anomaly. Particularly in shooting, he just falls short of Paul. While Paul gives you 10-11 points a game from either behind the arc or behind the stripe, Rondo gives you just two or three on average.
Deron Williams generated a lot of conversation with his free agency last summer, and his ensuing decision to remain in Brooklyn. Williams is a fine defensive player and has similar passing and scoring numbers to Paul, but his field-goal percentage is lower.
Over the last two seasons, Williams' field-goal percentage has fallen off a cliff to .423. He's not making up for it with his .334 shooting from deep either. Even factoring in the free throws, Paul has a pretty hefty lead in true shooting percentage over the last two years and two weeks: .581 to .547.
Russell Westbrook is explosive, puts up good scoring numbers and his team was in the finals, but he also plays with the best catch-and-shoot scorer in the game, Kevin Durant, and in spite of that still averages relatively weak assist numbers.
Last year, Westbrook averaged nearly four fewer assists per game than Paul. This year, he's surrendering roughly five per game to Paul.
There's one healthy player that does everything well and nothing badly, and that's Chris Paul. He's the only player in the NBA over the last two-plus seasons with 2,500 points, 1,000 assists and 500 rebounds while maintaining an effective field-goal percentage of at least .500.
He's also been named to the All-Defense team both years and led the league in steals over that time frame.
Paul's averaging 18.5 points and 11.5 assists this year, which for anyone else would be extraordinary, but for Paul is just another season. What's remarkable, though, and different, is that he's scoring those 18.5 points on just 11.0 attempts per game.
What makes Paul so impressive is his ability to beat you in multiple ways. He can beat you off the dribble and take the ball to the hole. And if you come out to stop him, he'll make you pay with the pass.
While we often focus on the spectacular, Paul can be at his most dangerous with the mundane, with that quick, perfect pass to the man slashing to the rim that he hits in perfect stride.
The reality is that Paul might not just be the point guard in the NBA, he's going to make a push for MVP this year and the best player in the NBA. He, not Durant, is the one who should be in the conversation with LeBron James. He's reached a point in his career where he has the maturity and understanding to complement his tremendous talent.
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