Chris Paul Eclipsing Steve Nash as Greatest PG in Recent History

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIJanuary 10, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 04:  Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers waits for an inbound pass as he is guarded by Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers during a 107-102 Clipper win at Staples Center on January 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Chris Paul has begun eclipsing Steve Nash as the greatest point guard in recent NBA history.

On January 10, 2013, CP3 continued his quest for the 2013 NBA MVP award. Matched up against an improving Dallas Mavericks squad, Paul led the Los Angeles Clippers to a 99-93 victory.

It was the Clippers' 13th consecutive home win—a franchise record.

Per usual, CP3 led the way to said achievement. He finished with 19 points, 16 assists, five rebounds and two steals on 8-of-13 shooting.

Most importantly, he secured the W—that and the respect of Dirk Nowitzki.

Dirk Nowitzki called CP3 the best leader in the league. Dirk: "Chris Paul can turn it up any time he wants. He can take games over."

— J.A. Adande (@jadande) January 10, 2013

That's high praise from one of the greatest leaders of all time

As for Paul's team, the Clippers are now 28-8 on the season and 18-3 at home. They also have an additional "road" victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.

More importantly, the Clippers are currently on pace for a 64-win season. Their franchise record is 49 victories in 1974-75 as the Buffalo Braves.

The issue at hand, however, is not whether or not CP3 is worthy of the MVP award. Instead, it is a testament to his budding status as the greatest point guard of his time—an honor he is rapidly prying away from Steve Nash.

Advantage: Nash

One of the most uncommonly known facts about Nash is that it wasn't until his ninth year in the league that he reached an average at least 10.0 assists per game. Since then, he has been on an absolute tear.

Nash averaged at least 10.5 in seven of his next eight seasons and is presently averaging 8.9 at the age of 38. He's averaging 10 flat since returning from a small leg fracture.

In other words, Nash has become better with age.

Beyond the facilitating is a man who has carved out a legacy as one of the greatest jump shooters in NBA history. For evidence, just check the numbers.

Nash has the highest three-point field-goal percentage of any player with at least 2,000 attempts. To put that into perspective, Nash has attempted 3,810.

Nash is also a career 90.4 percent free-throw shooter, which has him tied with Mark Price for first all time.

Furthermore, Nash has posted a true shooting percentage above .600 in every season since 2005.

Since he joined the Phoenix Suns in 2004-05, Nash has averaged 16.2 points and 10.9 assists per game. Since Chris Paul's rookie season, Nash is averaging 16.3 points and 10.8 assists.

Perhaps most important of all, Nash has made four Western Conference finals appearances. Paul has never made it past the second round.

Nash has also won back-to-back NBA MVP awards. CP3 is pursuing his first in 2012-13.

So where does Paul make his name?

Gaining Traction: Paul

Since his rookie season in 2005-06, Chris Paul has posted career averages of 18.7 points and 9.8 assists. Compared to Steve Nash's 16.3 points and 10.8 assists since '05-'06, there is a minimal disparity.

CP3 is scoring more, assisting less and shooting at a slightly lower rate.

Key word: slightly.

Paul has posted a true shooting percentage of 57.6 percent or better in every season since 2007-08. In fact, since 2008-09, Paul has finished an average of just 2.92 true shooting percentage points behind Nash.

In other words, Paul is gaining traction.

This is not to suggest CP3 is the caliber of shooter that Nash has proven to be. In fact, you could name on one hand the players who fit that billing.

The fact of the matter is, CP3 is not as far behind Nash as one might assume.

For one additional note, Paul has finished with the highest player efficiency rating of any point guard in five consecutive seasons. In 2012-13, he continues to earn that distinction.

If you have not yet been convinced, allow the following statement to sway your vote.

Deciding Factor: Defense

Paul has led the league in steals more times than Nash has averaged at least one per game.

As that statistic sinks in, understand that CP3's defensive advantage over Nash goes beyond the numbers. In fact, Nash is widely considered to be one of the less capable defenders at the point guard position.

Paul, meanwhile, has led the league in steals in four separate seasons and is consistently mentioned as a candidate for defensive player of the year.

As for their respective impact on team defense, the Clippers are presently averaging 94.4 points allowed per 48 minutes with Paul on the floor. That number rises to 99.4 per 48 when CP3 is on the bench.

Nash's most recently solid defensive campaign came in 2011-12, as the Phoenix Suns allowed 98.8 per 48 with and 98.2 without.

Although Nash is a rather underrated team defender, his one-on-one skills would never be mistaken for those of CP3. In fact, there may not be a point guard since Gary Payton that is as overwhelming a defender as Paul.

In turn, Chris Paul has begun to eclipse Steve Nash as the greatest point guard in recent history.


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