Did the Houston Rockets make a mistake trading Chris Paul? It’s a question at least worth asking, while fully acknowledging there were abundant concerns about his age and durability—not to mention possible friction with teammate James Harden. It isn’t exactly like the Rockets are flopping (something Paul is very good at). Still, in a season of redemption for future basketball Hall of Famers, from Carmelo Anthony hitting game winners with the Blazers, to Dwight Howard contributing for the Lakers, no discarded star is proving more than the Point God Chris Paul.
When Paul was shipped to Oklahoma City he was viewed as a contract albatross headed to NBA purgatory. Now, one of the greatest floor generals of all time (alongside his young backcourt mate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) has the Thunder positioned for the playoffs in the Western Conference. The team is certainly following CP3’s lead, especially in crunch time. Paul’s mastery over the forgotten territory that is the midrange has helped him lead the entire NBA in clutch points, on 54-39-95 splits. Which is in direct contrast to Rockets replacement Russell Westbrook who has struggled with his shot with a true shooting percentage in danger of falling below 50%.
Considering Harden and Paul functioned well as almost change of pace backs and only lost to the Warriors and Kevin Durant—once by a hamstring—it’s at least worth considering whether Houston would have been better off keeping Paul, if he stays healthy of course. Either way, it’s easy to appreciate Chris Paul’s play as many of the traits some found annoying have become endearing. The dude simply competes and has the Oklahoma City Thunder in the hunt.