Chris Paul: The Smartest Player in the NBA

Joe GerrityCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2009

When one thinks of a basketball genius, Chris Paul's name has to come to mind.

Standing at only six feet tall, he takes advantage of rules that taller players don't even think to do. What makes him so smart?

The Two and One

When there are 50 seconds or less left in any quarter, Paul takes full advantage. If possible, he manages the game so that the Hornets get a shot off with 30 seconds left on the clock.

This allows his team to almost always get two shots off, while the other team is stuck shooting just one.

It might not seem like a ton, but that little move gives the Hornets one additional shot, worth a bonus of approximately of 1.2 points each time he does it.

The Cut in Front

While dribbling down court, he does something that I've rarely seen in my 20 or so years of watching the league.

He speeds in front of a player on the opposing team, cuts in front while dribbling, and then just stops.

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If the opposing player isn't athletic enough or paying close enough attention, he runs into him and gets called for a foul.

Done once, this might not seem like much, but, when he does it 10 times a game, it helps out.

From my experience he draws one or two additional fouls per game like this.

This move is capable of being used in other situations, as well.

Last night, with three seconds remaining in the half, Paul received an inbounds pass near the Hornets' baseline.

In two seconds, he made it all the way to half court and, then, inexplicably (at the time) slowed down.

He cut in front of a Timberwolves' player and stopped running, instead hoisting up a shot he had no intention or possibility of making.

The Timberwolves' player was unable to avoid contact with Paul, and as a result CP3 shot three free throws to end the half, making them all.

This isn't something that any other player does with any sort of regularity.

Up by One, Ball in Hands, 10 Seconds Left

This is yet another example of Chris Paul taking full advantage of the NBA rules. Although he's only been successful with this a few times, it remains in his arsenal.

The obvious move for the other team in this situation is to foul so Paul shoots two free throws, leaving it a one possession game. Not in CP3's world.

Most players in this situation just take the foul and the two free throws.

Paul, however, sees this as a perfect opportunity to get an additional free throw.

He knows the foul is coming, so, when he's hit, he just jacks up a shot from WAY downtown.

The first time he did this, the refs weren't quite sure what to make of it, and, consequently, they only gave him two free throws.

He plead his sensible case, but they didn't budge.

Next time in this same situation, before play had started he walked up to the ref and told him of his plans to shoot the ball while being fouled.

This time, with the ref aware of his intentions, Paul was fouled while shooting a 60-foot three-pointer.

He was awarded three free throws, of which he made all, essentially closing out the game.

The Flop

Now let me just throw it out there. I'm not a huge fan of this move.

Luckily for CP3, it doesn't matter what people think.

Flopping has gone on in the league since it's inception. Drawing fouls is beneficial to your team, and CP3 is among the best at it.

Although I'm completely unable to find stats on fouls drawn (anyone?), I'm pretty sure that CP3 is among the league leaders over the last two years.

Now I know all I've talked about is sneaky moves to gain small advantages, but when you look at the sum of them, the contributions are pretty significant.

Traditional Means of Judging NBA IQ

He's led the league in steals and assists for a number of years, while keeping his turnover rate remarkably low, proving his court vision is the best in the league.

His rebounding numbers are great for a player as small as he is, proving his instincts are off the charts.

Last year, he averaged 5.6 per game, second among point guards and behind only six-foot-four Jason Kidd.

His 1.42 points per shot and 50 percent shooting mark from the floor last year proved that his shot selection is among the best in the league, as well.

You know, he wasn't dunking it like the few guys ahead of him.

Feel differently? Let me know.