As we all know by now, Chris Paul didn’t choose to be in OKC. He wound up in Oklahoma due to the Rockets needing to make a change. He isn’t in his prime anymore and his chances at a championship are waning.
With that being said, he could’ve been a poor sport and pouted about getting traded. Instead, he took it with grace and has led a rebuilding Thunder team to a 25-19 record. He has shown true leadership and been key to the growth of young players.
Here’s his report card ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, one that will more than likely pass with him still in OKC. As opposed to four months ago, that’s just fine with Thunder fans.
Paul’s leadership has shown greatly this year. Young guys are rallying around him, and he’s leading the team on and off the court. He has been instrumental in the Thunder’s community efforts, taking over as a role model to kids as Thunder legend Russell Westbrook had before him.
His IQ is among the best this game has ever seen. He breaks down defenses, he humiliates bigs on switches, and demonstrates his unmatched knowledge of the game. Remember when he got a technical foul for an opponent’s jersey being untucked, allowing OKC to complete an improbable comeback? That’s just who he is.
Lastly, he can shoot. OKC hasn’t had a point guard that could consistently shoot anything beyond 15 feet in maybe forever?1 OKC fans are now loving the sight of a Thunder point guard shooting threes.
There haven’t been many negatives to Paul’s game this season. As he wasn’t expected to do much other than be a filler/stop-gap in the Westbrook trade that netted two picks and two pick swaps.
But one negative that remains is how big his contract is, which isn’t tradeable at the moment even with his good play. He has two years and an option left which he will most certainly pick up. He helped negotiate the CBA to help get that deal. Maybe a 2020 weak free agent class could be the ticket to a trade.
Another slight negative: even though he’s been instrumental in the young players’ growth, both he and Dennis Schröder taking primary ball handling duties isn’t giving us a read on if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a point guard in waiting or better suited at the two. I would like to see more passing skills out of SGA while running the offense.
Player grade: A
CP3 has made the best of his time here in OKC. He’s been the ultimate professional, even with an uncertain future. It doesn’t matter how long or short his stay is: he has cemented his legacy with the organization even if/when he is traded.