Chris Paul: The Forgotten MVP Candidate

Scott McGrathCorrespondent IApril 12, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 26:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets drives the ball up the court against the Houston Rockets on December 26, 2008 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.  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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

After coming in second in MVP voting last year, Chris Paul seems to have fallen off the map this year in the race.  The stats Paul has put up this season are better in almost every facet, yet he has gotten almost no attention.

Admittedly, LeBron James is having an MVP season and should win the award. Dwyane Wade, although it is doubtful he will win, is also having an MVP-caliber season. But, players like Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are also getting mentions before one even hears Paul's name.

Bryant and Howard are both great players, and it is especially difficult to compare Paul to Howard at the different positions they play. However, Bryant's stats are no better than Paul, who is averaging a double-double this season.

Kobe Bryant is no doubt one of the best active NBA players. But is that fact good enough reason to get Bryant mentioned in the MVP race when he puts up stats worse than others who are not even considered?

It appears obvious that LeBron James will win the MVP, and if not, the only other choice seems to be Dwyane Wade. But, the only other player mentioned is Kobe Bryant.  So, here are some statistical comparisons on the year between Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.

Some stats are better for each player, but here they are:



Kobe Bryant: 27.1 points per game

Chris Paul : 22.9 points per game

Given that Bryant is a shooting guard, it is only normal that he leads Paul in scoring per game. However, looking at some of the percentages, it is really jaw-dropping in Paul's favor. To this day, Chris Paul has 1,211 shots (170 of them from three) and 505 free throws.

Paul shoots 50 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from three, and 87 percent from the free throw line. 

Kobe Bryant has 1,692 shots (332 of them from three) and 555 free throws.  Bryant has shot almost 500 more field goals and 50 more free throws and only averages about four points per game more, and Paul isn't even a shooting guard.

The percentages also tilt slightly in Paul's favor, as Bryant is 47 percent from the field, 35.2 percent from three, and 86 percent from the free throw line.

Those percentages are eerily similar, but Paul still has an advantage. However, for the sheer amount of times that Kobe shoots, the margin between Paul and he should probably be greater.



Kobe Bryant: 5.3 rebounds per game (1.1 offensive)

Chris Paul: 5.5 rebounds per game (0.9 offensive)

Here, Paul has a slight advantage, but the numbers are practically equal. But, the main thing for rebounding is, Kobe Bryant is 6'6" tall, while Paul is just 6'0". 

Obviously, shorter guards can often be more elusive in terms of rebounding, but with a six inch difference, Bryant should be able to get more rebounds. But, Bryant does have a slight edge in offensive rebounding, which can prove more useful in a game.



Kobe Bryant: 1.45 steals per game

Chris Paul: 2.83 steals per game

Kobe is one of the better defensive players in the league, and obviously, steals don't necessarily reflect defense. However, Paul, on defense, is more agile and active (or maybe just in the right place more), almost doubling the amount of steals Bryant gets.

Paul has been widely noted for his steal average since he entered the league, and if he were to average 20 points per game, 10 assists, and three steals, he would be the first player to do so since Magic Johnson.


Blocks will be skipped for they both don't matter in each players' games. Both players are fairly mediocre in the category, with Bryant at .45 per game, and Paul at .13 per game. With his height, it is clear that Bryant should have an advantage in blocks, and just shows again that Bryant is clearly a great defender in the league.



Kobe Bryant: 2.60 turnovers per game

Chris Paul: 3.03 turnovers per game

Paul is a point guard and therefore handles the ball more, and also averages two more minutes a game than Bryant does. However, the turnover margin is fairly close considering the two. 

Chris Paul is a magical ball handler with some of the passes he pulls off, which makes it no surprise that his turnover average is not too high. However, Bryant is not the point guard for the Lakers and still is very close to Paul in turnovers.



Kobe Bryant: 4.9 assists per game

Chris Paul: 11.0 assists per game

Paul's stat here is simply amazing and can't be matched, so this is a little unfair.  This is obviously the stat that is the second part of Paul's double-double average.

Paul's seeming ease to get assists has started a call for the definition of assist to be changed, that's how dominant he has been. 

However, Bryant must get some credit. Many call him a "ball-hog" and say he never passes, but don't realize he still averages a decent five assists per game.


Both players have a habit of making players around them better as well.  Pau Gasol was transformed after the trade and Andrew Bynum has blossomed into a star.  David West became an All-Star after Paul joined the Hornets, and players like Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler especially seem rejuvenated with Paul running the system.

Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul are obviously two of today's great players and this is not intended to take anything away from either. It is intended, however, to provoke some thought on why Bryant gets so much more media attention.

Is it simply the name Kobe Bryant that causes so much buzz? Is it simply that he plays on the storied Lakers?  Is it a combination or neither?