It’s Time to Give Chris Paul His Roses with the MVP Award

Chris Paul is not the typical NBA superstar of his generation.  He is small by NBA standards, ornery and a big part of his game, the midrange jump shot, is scoffed at by analytics. In a sport full of premiere athletes with size, speed and strength, the future Hall of Famer still on top of his game in his 16th season. CP3 has a litany of accolades, but despite years of point guard supremacy, the MVP trophy continues to elude him.

It is an understatement to say that Paul is long overdue to have an MVP award in his trophy case. Could this year finally be the year when he gets his just due? We know that he is not one of the five best players in the NBA at this stage of his career, but few impact the game in the way that he does.

There are players with better stats, but we have seen guys like Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki win the award without having eye-popping numbers. Paul’s averages of 16 points and 8.7 assists are good, but not great. In support of his case, he is a few shades away from being a 50-40-90 guy (shooting percentages of 50% in field goals, 40% from three, and 90% from the free throw line), yet his impact is bigger than what is viewed in the box score. Before Paul’s arrival, the Phoenix Suns were the laughingstock of the NBA. Although the uber-talented Devin Booker showed superstar capabilities, it did not translate into team success.

With the addition of CP3, the Suns are sitting comfortably as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Through 53 games (and Paul missing just one game), their record is 38-15. In comparison to last season, the Suns won just 34 games, which included the stunning 8-0 tally in the bubble last summer.

The Suns turning into a Western Conference power is a culmination of a few things. Booker is inching closer to superstardom, former #1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton is improving each game, and Monty Williams is one of the best head coaches in the business. But all in all, the 35-year-old Point God is the wizard behind everything.

Paul continues to stay one step ahead of Father Time despite being one of the elder statesmen in the league. When it comes to changing the makeup of a team, Paul is only second to LeBron James. His track record speaks for itself; Paul has increased win totals in his first season in all his stops as a pro. What he has accomplished in New Orleans, Los Angeles (Clippers), Houston, Oklahoma City and now Phoenix has been nothing short of amazing.

Paul finished second in the MVP voting losing to Kobe Bryant in 2008, and in 2012 and 2013 he finished in the top four (losing out to James each time). Losing the MVP award to two of the greatest players to ever lace them up is not a bad thing, but it shows you how close Paul has been to win.

The landscape of the award changed when Russell Westbrook won it in 2017. Westbrook was the first person in nearly four decades to win the award with their team not being in the top 2 of their conference. The team aspect has always mattered for MVPs, so with that, Paul is the perfect candidate to win it for the first time.

Even with James, Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid out of the running due to injuries, Paul has stiff competition with Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and two-time defending MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. But then again, few have the type of imprint on a team in the manner that CP3 has.

When legendary athletes and entertainers enter the twilight of their careers, they are typically awarded a lifetime achievement award. That honor celebrates their accomplishments, particularly focusing on the prime years of their peak. In CP3’s case, this year’s MVP actually wouldn’t be a “thanks for everything” award because what he is currently doing is on par with how he played at his apex. The forever-changing criteria for the NBA MVP award will always shift, given the circumstances and depending on who the candidates are. However in this case, it is only right to give the nod to Paul, who has waited for over a decade to hoist the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

Ronnie Hampston and his musings can be found via Twitter @ron_hamp. The Ohio native hosts All of the Above with former University of Cincinnati star and NBA vet James “Flight” White.

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