SLAM Top 50: Chris Paul, No. 7

When games get tight in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, the NBA becomes a one-play League, where the pick-and-roll reigns supreme. The pick-and-roll is simple, but it provides enough options to produce quality looks in crunch time.

Every single team runs high pick-and-roll in the clutch. And winning close games is where superstars shine brightest, which makes having a guy who excels with the ball in pick-and-roll a huge priority for coaches and GMs.

High pick-and-roll is the primary reason we’re living in a golden point guard era. There’s a great point guard on damn near every team in the League. The best one? Chris Paul.

Paul’s ability to run PNR with surgical precision is what separates him from the rest of the L. Paul can get to the rim, throw lobs, find shooters in the corners and hit pull-up jumpers.

His genius level intellect when it comes to reading each situation is the best skill he has. Paul knows what to do when he comes down court just by looking at the defense. He doesn’t force the issue, he just takes what the defense gives him.

He’s great at calling out the worst defender on the other team to be involved in the PNR and then finding the mismatches that present themselves as a result.

If a weak side defender steps into the lane too early, Paul can whip passes all around the 94×50. If defenses overplay him, he pops the ball to Blake Griffin, which then leads to those big-to-big alley-oops between Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. If they go under, he can stick mid-range shots like few others can. With JJ Redick and now Paul Pierce on the perimeter and Griffin and Jordan down low, he makes defenses pay no matter what.

There are plenty of good pick-and-roll point guards who have already popped up on our Top 50 list (salute to John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Mike Conley, Tony Parker and Jeff Teague!). But Paul has one more thing that not even four-time champ TP has; an insane competitive drive.

Paul’s been the best point guard in the NBA for a whole long time now. Chalk that up to never, ever wanting to lose. The fire that burns inside Paul has been well documented, but it’s often forgotten until you see him violently yelling at Jordan.

And he’s also taken a lot of shit for how badly he wants to win. But that’s what makes him so good, on both sides of the ball. His defense on the ball is incredibly ferocious and fast. His hands are so strong and quick that he can steal the ball and then find a bucket in five seconds.

He just doesn’t want to get beaten. That’s why he still so good. The 2015-16 season is his 11th in the League. He’ll be 31 by the time the Clips make the second round of the ’16 Playoffs.

With a few more miles on his knees, his brain and his eyes have evolved. He sees the floor better than anyone in the L. Mix his basketball IQ with his desire to win with his defensive capabilities with his leadership qualities with his passing skills, and you’ve got the best point guard in the NBA. His name’s Chris Paul.


SLAM Top 50 Players 2015
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Rajon Rondo Kings PG 14
49 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks SF 8
48 Rudy Gobert Jazz C 10
47 Al Jefferson Hornets C 9
46 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 7
45 Goran Dragic Heat PG 13
44 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 11
43 Jeff Teague Hawks PG 12
42 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 6
41 Joakim Noah Bulls C 8
40 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 11
39 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
38 Andrew Wiggins T-Wolves SF 7
37 Kyle Lowry Raptors PG 9
36 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 10
35 Gordon Hayward Jazz SF 6
34 Pau Gasol Bulls PF 9
33 Paul Millsap Hawks PF 8
32 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 8
31 Andre Drummond Pistons C 7
30 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 7
29 Draymond Green Warriors PF 6
28 Kobe Bryant Lakers SG 5
27 Dwyane Wade Heat SG 4
26 DeAndre Jordan Clippers C 6
25 Tim Duncan Spurs C 5
24 Derrick Rose Bulls PG 7
23 Al Horford Hawks C 4
22 Paul George Pacers SF 5
21 Chris Bosh Heat PF 5
20 Kevin Love Cavs PF 4
19 Dwight Howard Rockets C 3
18 Jimmy Butler Bulls SG 3
17 Klay Thompson Warriors SG 2
16 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 6
15 Kyrie Irving Cavs PG 5
14 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 2
13 Carmelo Anthony Knicks SF 4
12 John Wall Wizards PG 4
11 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 3
10 LaMarcus Aldridge Spurs PF 3
9 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 1
8 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 2
7 Chris Paul Clippers PG 3

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2015-16—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.