NBA Finals 2021 Player Analysis: Here's what Chris Paul needs to do to ensure the Phoenix Suns are victorious

Chris Paul lifts aloft the Western Conference trophy for the Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul lifts aloft the Western Conference trophy for the Phoenix Suns
Miles Lockhart

After 16 years of establishing himself as one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Chris Paul finally has a chance to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy.

He has been instrumental in the Phoenix Suns' playoff run and was able to shake off a worrying shoulder injury in their first-round matchup with the LA Lakers to help the team through to their first Finals appearance since 1993.

Paul has been one of the most consistent scorers and distributors the league has ever seen. However, he has always fallen short of reaching the NBA Finals and has had horrific luck with injuries in playoff runs gone by. This year, it looks like he will stop at nothing to lift that elusive trophy.

But it won't come easy against a defensively stiff Milwaukee Bucks unit who also have two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo leading their offense.

Chris Paul's role on the Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns veteran Chris Paul with young center DeAndre Ayton
Phoenix Suns veteran Chris Paul with young center DeAndre Ayton

Chris Paul is the Phoenix Suns' out-and-out leader on and off the court. His experience and knowledge of the league has been crucial in the development of both Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton - the latter of whom has credited playing with CP3 as the best thing to happen to his career.

Moving to Phoenix was a simple decision for Paul, who wanted to move back closer to his family and work with former coach Monty Williams again. Ever since his trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 36-year-old has made the $41m contract the Suns took on worth every penny.

He has been the Phoenix Suns' primary ball handler all year, an area of the court they had been struggling to arrest for the past decade. He provides a calming head on offense and is a tenacious defender on the other end.

Having played in the league for so long, Chris Paul understands how to create space for his own game and for others.

Even when Paul was sidelined prior to the series against the LA Clippers due to testing positive for covid-19, he was actively trying to help and offer advice to his teammates away from the court. He is the heartbeat of this team and a predominant reason for their success.

Chris Paul's performance in the 2021 NBA Playoffs so far

Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns were immense against the Denver Nuggets
Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns were immense against the Denver Nuggets

Chris Paul has continued his consistency on both sides of the ball from the regular season into the playoffs. So far, he has averaged 18.1 points and 8.7 assists to go along with 1.4 steals per game.

He has also shot the ball at a prolific rate - 47% from the field, 40% from downtown and 90% from the line - and turned the ball over just 1.6 times per contest, which is the third-least of his postseason career.

Paul was limited in the Phoenix Suns' opening series of the playoffs against the Lakers due to a shoulder injury suffered in game one. In the next two matchups, the point guard would be limited in how he would normally affect the game and played just 22 minutes in game two.

By the time their semi-final series against the Denver Nuggets came around, he was back to his very best and their defense had little answer to his magic with the ball in hand. Paul had a staggering shooting split of 62-75-100 over four games, averaging 25.5 points per night and ten assists.

Inactive for games one and two against the Clippers due to coronavirus isolation, Chris Paul struggled to find his shooting touch until game five of the series, in which he grabbed 22 points and dished out eight assists.

He saved the best until last, though, as the veteran maestro put up a masterful 41-point showing on his former team's home court, scoring 7 of 8 threes and not turning the ball over once.

Chris Paul's key responsibilities against Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals

Milwaukee Bucks' Jrue Holiday
Milwaukee Bucks' Jrue Holiday

Chris Paul may have his toughest test on offense as the Milwaukee Bucks will likely task Jrue Holiday with guarding him.

Holiday often picks up opponents' backcourt orchestrators and will be harrying Paul for every minute he is on the floor. So it is up to the Phoenix Suns star to use all of his cunning and genius with the ball to combat an NBA-All Defensive Team of the Year member.

Chris Paul's leadership will also be more important than ever before as he tries to guide this young Suns team to glory. Although they have some incredible talent in Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton as well as a deep bench, they lack playoff experience.

Of course, that hasn't hindered them up until now, but with a championship on the line, CP3 will need to project his intense focus onto each one of his teammates to overcome a more experienced Milwaukee Bucks outfit.

Edited by Rohit Mishra
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