Player in Focus: Chris Paul and his journey so far with the Phoenix Suns | NBA Season 2020-21

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns

Chris Paul will go down as one of the best point guards to have ever graced the NBA hardwood. His court-vision and high basketball IQ have deservedly earned him the nickname Point God.

The veteran is at par with LeBron James in terms of durability as he is still making strides in his 16th year in the league. The 35-year-old revived his All-Star status with the Thunder last season and has received the honors again this campaign.

After a strong showing in the 2020 playoffs, CP3 was traded to the Phoenix Suns as the OKC Thunder committed to rebuilding the team. He has been a great fit with his new side and is looking primed to help them end their long-standing playoff drought.

Role with the Phoenix Suns

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns talks with #22 Deandre Ayton during a team huddle.
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns talks with #22 Deandre Ayton during a team huddle.

In just his first year with the Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul has transformed a lottery team into a top contender. The Suns ended their previous campaign with a 34-39 record. By contrast, the new-look Suns lineup has already accomplished a stellar 36-15 record this time around, the second-best in the West, 2.5 games behind the conference-leading Utah Jazz.

The Suns' quick turnaround has been aptly called the Chris Paul effect.

Paul is a master of his craft and can change the fortunes of any team with his presence. Under his leadership, the Suns have marked a significant improvement on both ends of the court. Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker is playing with much more confidence alongside CP3 as the duo have proven to be the guiding force behind their winning record.

Deandre Ayton's averages have fallen this year, but that serves as a testament to his willingness to sacrifice for the team. With the Suns' young guns accepting Paul running the show, the Western Conference club could reach new heights in the postseason this year.

Season so far

Chris Paul's season averages have taken a dip compared to his former glory days, but don't let that fool you, as he is still the difference-maker for his side. He is averaging 16.2 points on an efficient 49% shooting display from the field. Paul has registered 30 points or above on two occasions while scoring 20 points or above 13 times.

He is also a threat from the three-point line, where he is clocking 36.2% shooting accuracy and a stellar 92.9% marksmanship from the free-throw line. Beyond his scoring abilities, Paul has made his living as one of the greatest playmakers the game has ever seen.

Paul continues to make everyone around him better, tallying 8.7 assists per contest thus far into the season. Fans can expect this number to go up once the playoffs commence.

Paul's durability often goes unnoticed, as the 16th year guard has played an impressive 50 games for the Phoenix Suns this campaign. He is averaging 32 minutes per game while only committing 2.4 fouls per contest.

On the defensive end, CP3 is averaging 4.7 rebounds per game while also adding 1.4 steals per outing. He has enjoyed a decorated career in his time with the NBA, earning 4x assists titles to go along with a whopping 6x steals titles to his name. The veteran has also garnered a reputation as an elite defensive player with nine selections to All-Defensive teams over the years.

The addition of Chris Paul has given the Suns a well-balanced offense that can hold its ground against any team in the association. As things stand now, they have the seventh-best offensive rating to go along with the fifth-best defensive rating.

Their all-around game bodes well for the upcoming postseason battle in the West. With Paul leading the way, the Suns could pull off an upset and make a deep playoffs run.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Chris Paul has never made it to the NBA Finals in his career.
Chris Paul has never made it to the NBA Finals in his career.

Chris Paul is a special talent that understands the game inside out. He can read opposing teams' tactics and help his side make adjustments in real-time. Paul is a natural leader who can rally the men behind him as he commands respect both on and off the floor.

The 35-year-old can also help struggling players find their groove by creating easy opportunities for them during tough stretches.

However, the most glaring shortcoming Chris Paul has to deal with is his inability to reach the NBA Finals. Even while playing alongside James Harden in Houston, the duo failed to deliver the goods as they were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

The future Hall of Famer boasts of an all-round game on the floor but has not been able to find success on the biggest stage. League experts and pundits continue to cast a shadow of doubt on his team's projections for the NBA title.

Chris Paul has accumulated several accolades in his celebrated career in the league. All that is left for him now is to take over those crucial games in the postseason. Finding success at that level could earn the veteran his first trip to the NBA Finals.

Expectations from Chris Paul going forward

(Front L-R) Deandre Ayton #22, Chris Paul #3, Jae Crowder #99 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns
(Front L-R) Deandre Ayton #22, Chris Paul #3, Jae Crowder #99 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns

Chris Paul is an aging veteran on a team of young stars who are still coming into their own. Head coach Monty Williams and their team's management will look to the veteran to guide their budding stars and help them take the next steps in their careers.

Chris Paul has the Midas touch and could help the Suns franchise start a new chapter of excellence with him laying out a strong foundation to build upon.

All things considered, the Suns may retire his number when his time at the franchise comes to an end.

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Edited by Zaid Khan