All the love goes to the stars able to lead their teams deep into the playoffs, but it’s worth taking a moment to observe that even though the always-shallow Hornets declined to mediocrity thanks to a poor supporting cast that Chris Paul is still an incredible basketball player. Not only did he have 23 points, 11 assists, and 5 rebounds per game but he did it while shooting fifty percent from the field, 36 percent from behind the arc, and 87 percent from the free throw line. He wasn’t, in other words, one of these guys who scores a ton just because he takes a ton of shots. But he also wasn’t one of those guys who shoots efficiently because he barely ever shoots. It was just an incredibly efficient performance. And that’s to say nothing of the 2.8 steals per game.
Given his age, he’ll probably continue to improve for another couple of years and then plateau for a while. And it’ll be a huge shame if he spends that time languishing with bad teammates in a small market. Team success winds up having an unduly large influence on perceptions of NBA player quality. When Kevin Garnett first burst upon the scene, his abilities were widely appreciated. Then we he repeatedly proved incapable of contending for a championship with utterly sub-par teammates, you started hearing that this was somehow his fault. Fortunately, he made it to Boston and was able to win a ring and get the recognition he deserved, even though by that time his skills had already deteriorated somewhat.