The New Orleans Hornets are having their best season in franchise history, and it's all due to the emergence of MVP candidate Chris Paul. At least, that's what most of the media would have you believe.
Conveniently forgotten are the facts that David West and Peja Stojakovic both played a combined 65 games last year. This year, they played in 76 and 77 games each. That's almost an entirely new starting lineup!
Instead of reporting those facts, the ones that are usually shown are Chris Paul's individual statistics: 21.1 PPG, 11.6 APG, and 2.7 SPG. I've watched a few New Orleans games, and the points and steals are legit. Chris Paul can get into the lane with the ease of Tony Parker, and his quick hands are always breaking up the opponent's passes. On the break, you can pretty much count the assist before Paul crosses half court.
But let's take a closer look at those assists, because it seems to be the stat that makes everyone go crazy, especially when Paul goes for 15 plus. The Hornets as a team average 21.77 assists per game. Sounds great, until you look at the league average and see that the league average for a team is 21.76 assists per game! For contrast, the Miami Heat averaged 20.05 assists per game, and the Los Angeles Lakers averaged 24.43 assists per game.
So, if the Hornets are only averaging the league average for assists, what is Chris Paul contributing to the team with his huge assist numbers? Wouldn't that imply that he's simply handling the ball more, so that more assists are allocated to him individually? If the assists are adding value, shouldn't the team's assists number be higher than the league average?
Or are his teammates so bad that they would be 11.6 assists short if Chris Paul were not on the team? That would take them down to 10 assists per game. Somehow, I don't think that's the case. Remember, even the Heat averaged 20 a game this year.
Chris Paul is a superb player and passer. I'm not arguing against that. I'm just saying that one shouldn't be blinded by gaudy stats if they're not adding to the team's overall total.
Maybe next time I'll analyze Kobe Bryant's scoring against the Lakers' overall scoring. It could be the same case, where points are just being re-allocated to an individual player, instead of raising the whole team's point total.