Michael Jordan is the GOAT. LeBron James chokes. Russell Westbrook is the obvious MVP. Kawhi Leonard is the best two-way player in the game, whatever that means.
We don't do well with nuance. Perhaps that's why we can't agree on Chris Paul.
The Los Angeles Clippers and their point guard failed again on Sunday, in the micro and the macro senses. They lost Game 7, they lost the series, and they lost their season. Along the way, they lost Blake Griffin, too, an absence which proved fatal for the Clips, but that's beside the point.
They still had Paul — the best point guard of his generation.
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Paul is one of only four players to play at least 800 games and average more than 15 points and nine assists (via Basketball-Reference), along with Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Isiah Thomas.
He's one of six players to play 800 games and have a career PER greater than 25. Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, and David Robinson would be the others, making Paul the only point guard on that list.
By any objective individual measure, Paul has no contemporary equal at his position.
And he's the only player in this lofty company with zero rings and zero Finals appearances.
So is Paul actually the least clutch and most overrated player in the NBA, as a significant portion of the basketball world believes?
You likely recall the Clippers' epic collapse against the Rockets in the 2015 playoffs, as Los Angeles surrendered a 19-point fourth-quarter lead and a 3-1 series advantage to Houston in the second round.
Paul also imploded in 2014 against the Thunder, committing two horrific turnovers to send Los Angeles packing in what was perhaps their best shot at the conference finals, let alone the NBA Finals.
And in 2013, after beating the Grizzlies in the first two games, the Clippers rolled over in the next four. Each of those series is as much a part of Paul's legacy as his epic game winner against the San Antonio Spurs in 2015.
That's the enigma of Chris Paul. He'll put you in position for the greatest success, but he won't take you all the way to the promised land.
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Indeed, such failure is a byproduct of Paul's greatness.
No one, not even LeBron James, controls a game like CP3. He's borderline allergic to the fastbreak, preferring to walk the ball up and survey the defense on every Clippers possession. He wants to keep the defense on a string, because he believes that's the best way to help his team win.
Yet for all his prowess, Paul lacks either the ability or the desire to take over the game. In 909 career regular-season and playoff games, he's scored 40 or more points just eight times. He's never approached 50, as his career-high in scoring is just 43 points.
I say "just" for one simple reason. Since Paul came into the league in 2005, 73 players have scored at least 44 points in a game. Seventy-three! Luminaries such as former Paul teammate David West, Victor Oladipo, Charlie Villanueva and Luis Scola dot the list.
Paul is nowhere to be found, by his own choice. He prefers making the right play, ignoring sometimes the right play is daring the defense to stop you, knowing full well they can't.
He's the anti-Russell Westbrook in every way.
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He relies on others to get the job done but insists the work be done his way. He's failed to entrust and empower his teammates — so when the pressure skyrockets in the clutch, the Clippers fall apart.
Furthermore, Paul's perfectionism keeps the Clips from playing their very best. Griffin and Jordan need to get out and run with a point guard who can find them in transition. Maybe if their point guard would let them play with a little more freedom instead of feeling like their lives are on the line in every game, they'd stop looking like they'd rather be anywhere else in the big moments.
That's just not Paul's game, and he's made only minor adjustments to the situation around him. He has the same self-assured stubbornness as so many of the world's smartest people, an almost self-fulfilling confidence you know best.
When you keep falling short of your own expectations, though, how long before you realize you're part of the problem as much as you're the solution?
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To appreciate Paul requires synthesizing those two extremes — his extraordinary value and his team's disappointment — while admitting that sometimes, things just happen.
The basketball universe certainly has been unkind to Paul and his team. The Clippers have battled injuries to Griffin and Paul alike at the most inopportune moments, including twice in the postseason.
They've faced the gauntlet that is the modern Western Conference, where the unflinching excellence of the San Antonio Spurs gave way to the thermonuclear annihilation of the Golden State Warriors.
Paul himself suffered a seemingly catastrophic knee injury in 2010 which sapped him of his athleticism and explosiveness before reinventing himself as a master of the mid-range.
And above all, let's not forget how awful a franchise the Clippers have been since they moved to Los Angeles. Donald Sterling dragged this team to the depths of hell.
Doc Rivers, for all he's done to bring this organization back from the brink, has failed as well. His rotations and schemes are stale, his eye for evaluating talent as the team's de facto GM cloudier than the Clippers' prospects for the future.
The ability to climb back so quickly from that abyss is a testament to the will of those who lasted beyond Sterling's atrocious tenure. The failures are proof of how low the Clippers were.
To an extent, Paul is the victim of the Wyatt Earp Effect. With thousands of NBA players through the ages and millions of permutations, one superstar was destined to stage a Hall of Fame career and come up short of the conference finals through sheer probability. Paul ended up on the wrong end of the odds.
That doesn't make him a villain. It makes him human.
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If we can acknowledge the role luck plays in our own existence while still learning from our mistakes and celebrating our successes, then we can understand Chris Paul.
He is the greatest point guard since Magic Johnson, and one of the NBA's greatest disappointments, both due to who he is and his environment.
Without him, the Clippers would remain the laughingstock of the NBA. With him, they're a success story wrapped in a sense there could have been more.
There's nothing simple about this team or its franchise player. Such is life.