Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul had high praise for 3x champion Udonis Haslem when addressing a group of young hoopers. While highlighting the contributions the Miami Heat veteran has made to his team, Paul also emphasized the importance of having personalities like him around.
In the offseason, several NBA players have attended or hosted camps to help young basketball players improve their game. While the skills aspect of the game is undoubtedly important, Paul helps in developing skills that help hoopers off the court.
With core values such as leadership and work ethic being equally important to the game, Chris Paul exemplified these traits through Udonis Haslem.
Although Haslem hasn't been an active player for a large part of the last few seasons, Paul had to speak about the value of veteran leadership. He said:
“You all heard everybody talking crazy about him? Why he on the team? Why he on the team?’ Man, I’m probably his biggest fan. You wanna know why? Because young guys need vets.
"You need somebody like UD showing up every day at practice at 11 and he probably in the gym 8, 8:30 every day. To motivate guys, to push guys."
With Haslem signing a new extension with the Miami Heat, the veteran is expected to return for his 20th season with the side. At the ripe age of 42, Haslem will also be the oldest active player in the league.
Given that Chris Paul himself is in the latter stages of his professional career, the star guard had to show props to Haslem's work ethic. However, unlike Haslem, who plays more of a mentoring role with the side, Paul is a central figure on the Suns' roster.
Tasked with running one of the most efficient offensive systems in the league, Paul will continue to be a player with a high usage rate this upcoming season.
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Will Chris Paul lead the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals again?
Chris Paul's first season with the Phoenix Suns yielded immediate success as the star found himself in the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. Although the result wasn't satisfactory, Paul continued to build upon the experience.
Unfortunately, the Suns failed to improve past the second-round of the playoffs as they fell to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.
But what does this mean for the Suns' future with Paul?
The Suns and Paul agreed upon a four-year deal that sees the guard locked in with the side until the summer of 2025. Considering that Phoenix have done a great job of retaining core pieces, the team can still make a solid run at the title with Paul running the offense.
Chris Paul ended last season as the league leader in assists. Given his work ethic and focus on fitness, we can expect Paul to be a pivotal figure even in his 18th season.