What Separates Chris Paul from the Rest of the Point Guards in the NBA?

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What Separates Chris Paul from the Rest of the Point Guards in the NBA?
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Chris Paul is, arguably, considered the best point guard in the NBA right now. But why is he worthy of this honor? What separates Paul from other elite point guards like Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook?

Paul's stat line isn't mind-boggling, and there isn't one stat that jumps out to us that can make us recognize him as the best in his position. In fact, it's actually a combination of factors that contribute to Paul's unofficial title. Let's take an in-depth look at why Paul deserves to be labeled the best point guard in the NBA.

Here is a list of some of the best point guards in the NBA right now and some of their numbers so far this season (stats as of 1/5/2013, from Basketball Reference, and Team Rankings):

  PER TS% AST% Off. Rtg Def. Rtg Ast/TO
Chris Paul 25.9 58.6 44.8 125 100 4.3
Rajon Rondo 18.9 53.5 50.8 106 104 3.2
Russell Westbrook 22.8 51.4 41.9 109 103 2.5
Deron Williams 17.4 51.9 37.4 109 109 2.8
Tony Parker 22.8 57.5 39.0 117 105 3.4
Kyrie Irving 21.4 56.5 31.8 108 108 1.5
Stephen Curry 19.2 57.4 28.5 112 104 2.1

 

I've decided not to include Derrick Rose since he hasn't played this season yet, or Steve Nash because he only played eight games thus far.

Efficiency

PER may be an overblown stat at times, but it is a good measurement of how efficient offensively a player is. Paul leads both Westbrook and Parker by more than three points, which is a significant margin. 

In terms of offensive efficiency, Paul leads every point guard on this list by a significant margin. Although the level of talent of the other players on the court with him may affect this stat, it's a fact that Paul runs the most efficient offense while he's on the floor.

 

Shooting

In the league today, good point guards must be able to shoot the ball. Paul is first on this list in true shooting percentage (a statistic that includes three-pointers and free throws), and second among all point guards in this category behind Jimmer Fredette.

Paul hasn't been shooting very well from beyond the arc season (32 percent), but his free-throw percentage is a career-best 90 percent, which has led to his high true shooting percentage.

 

Curry may be the best shooting point guard, but knowing when to shoot and picking your spots is more important and separates the good point guards from the great point guards.

 

Passing

In assisted shots percentage, Paul is second behind Rondo in the rate he assists his teammates for shots. Rondo is leading the league in assists per game and assists per 36 minutes, so it's natural for him to be leading in this category.

However, Paul leads every player other than Chris Duhon in assist/turnover ratio, which even further emphasizes his high basketball IQ. He is able to recognize the best opportunities to pass the ball to lead to an easy basket, as opposed to making risky passes and getting it stolen.

However, this stat is more favorable toward pass-first point guards like Paul and Rondo instead of primary scoring point guards like Irving and Curry. 

 

Defense

On defense, Paul has fast hands and rotates quickly. He's probably not a better man-to-man defender than Westbrook or Rondo, but defensive rotations are a large part of being a successful defender.

Paul has the highest defensive rating when he's on the floor out of all seven point guards. By no means does this mean he's the best individual defender in his position. It does, however, indicate how well his team plays defense when he's on the court.

Of every point guard in the league, Paul trails only Mike Conley and teammate Eric Bledsoe in defensive efficiency. This says a lot, considering Conley is one of the best on-ball defenders at his position, and Bledsoe is well known for being an athletic monster on defense.

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