This NBA season has been the most unpredictable season in many years. A shortened offseason, canceled games, star players injured every week, confusing player COVID-19 guidelines and mostly empty arenas have left many fans and players alike frustrated. As a Los Angeles Lakers fan, I too have been disgusted with the injuries and recent play of my team.
What has been most shocking and unpredictable is the emergence of doormat teams that turned into legit playoff contenders. Look no further than the Phoenix Suns who are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and have already clinched a playoff spot.
How is it that in one year a franchise that was the laughingstock of the West could become a legit finals contender? I believe it is because of one man who does this to every team he goes to. In my mind, he should also be the MVP of the season, and that man is none other than Suns point guard Chris Paul.
After being drafted fourth overall by the New Orleans Hornets [now Pelicans,] Paul has been a difference-maker since he touched an NBA basketball. His court vision is immaculate and his ability to read defenses is spectacular, Paul has been with five NBA franchises and has taken all of them to the playoffs. I believe his most impressive playoff run was last year with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After the Thunder gave up on their big three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, they entered what they thought was a rebuilding year. After trading Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Paul and draft picks in 2019, nobody was expecting anything from the Thunder. Instead, Paul turned a depleted Oklahoma roster into a fifth seed that went seven games with his former team the Rockets in the first round. On top of that, Paul also has an impressive streak of 10 consecutive seasons in the playoffs.
It is for this reason alone he is in my mind the MVP. Paul is one of two players who can go to a dead franchise and turn them into a title contender. Most writers focus on a player’s stat line to determine MVP. This year, Paul is averaging 16.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.
Those are by far nowhere near MVP caliber numbers, but that is not Paul’s game. His game is joining a team with average to below-average players and turning them into stars. Other than Devin Booker, the Suns' roster is made up of players that would most likely be bench warmers on any other roster. That is what makes Paul so special. The only other players I have seen with this type of talent are Magic Johnson and LeBron James.
Before Paul got to the Suns, they had finished last in the West three out of five years. Even with All-Star Devin Booker, the Suns never finished higher than No. 10 in the West before Paul got there. Even though Booker’s numbers of 25.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game are not career highs, it just further illustrates the power of the Suns when Chris Paul has the ball in his hands. It took a 35-year-old point guard who was injury prone and considered was washed up by many, to turn this franchise around. Though many superstars were in line for the MVP that now will not win it because of injury, Paul is the clear choice without a doubt.
Having said that, I am still a Lakers fan who will tell you the regular season means nothing come playoff time. Enjoy your regular season play Suns fans. King James will see you in the playoffs very soon.
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Sean (he/him) is a business administration major from California. He enjoys playing video games and watching Disney+ in his free time.