Doctor MJ wrote: Baski wrote:
A note on Paul:
Him being traded to Phoenix makes it really clear how next year is going to be big for Paul's legacy. Paul thus far largely has a career where he's managed not to make his teammates better despite playing the "make your teammates better" position exceptionally well. Paul likes control, and he's going to a place where he needs to not be a control-freak or it just won't work. It's Booker's backcourt and Paul best never delude himself otherwise.
Hmmm. Gotta say this is surprising to read. That kind of comment fits someone like Kyrie Irving rather than Chris Paul. What's your basis for this?
Here's what I'm referring to, and note that I'm fine if you think my off-the-cuff argumentation along these lines is hyperbolic and/or sloppy.
Ok so I do think it's hyperbolic so we can get that out of the way early.
Paul does not show signs of massively improving his teammates shooting efficiency the way Nash does.
Consider when Paul went to the Clippers and much was expected in terms of him being able to transform teammates:
In '10-11, pre-Paul, the Clippers had a team TS Add of 9.3.
In '11-12, with Paul, the Clippers TS Add went up 102.3...but Paul himself was a 110.7, so the rest of the team's TS Add was actually -8.4. When you consider that in '10-11 the team also had Baron Davis who was a negative TS Add, we do in fact appear to be in a situation where Paul's presence was at best neutral at giving his teammates better shots.
By contrast, consider Nash's arrival in Phoenix.
In '03-04 the team's TS Add was 64.9.
In '04-05 it went up to 629.5. Yes Nash was part of that with a +146.7, but you're still talking about a TS Add gain of nearly 500 without Nash.
TS Add looks like an interesting stat. I wonder why you only focused on the 1st years on new teams though. Taking a look at the stats for the Clippers over the years, I see that the Clippers improved in TS Add from 102.3 to:
2013- 334.3 where minus Paul it's 215.5
2014- 416.8 where minus Paul it's 337.1, further remove Griffin for being a top 3 MVP candidate and that's 198
2015- 516.5 where minus Paul it's 353.3
2016- 278.7 where minus Paul it's 194.8
Even with the mess that was 2017- 342.5 where minus Paul it's 232.1
Paul leaves the Clippers and they go back to their 2010 levels-74.9 with Blake playing little but offering up a negative TS when he did play
Paul joins the 2020 Thunder and they go from -201.6 to 109.1
I think it's worth noting how Paul's teams never reached the bonkers peaks that teams like the 2016 Warriors (827.7, 55% of which was from Curry. Holy ****), 2013 and 2014 Heat (763.6, 44% from LeBron) did. But there's a lot of evidence he does make his teammates shoot better if we're going by TS Add, as his team's numbers generally hold up well against a few prime LeBron seasons and the peaks of some other notable offensive dynamos in the modern game. For example:
2012 Heat-262.2, 44.4 without Lebron
2015 Cavs-335.9, 207.5 without Lebron
2016 Cavs-265, 111.6 without Lebron
2017 Cavs-360, 148.8 without Lebron
2018 Cavs-489.4, 255.7 without Lebron
2020 Lakers-142.7, 105.7 without Lebron
2018 Nuggets-257.7, 149.3 without Jokic
2019 Nuggets-minus 33.4, minus 114.3 without Jokic
2020 Nuggets-99.3, 2.5 without Jokic
2012 Thunder- 502.9, primarily from KD and Harden. 42.9 without em
2013 Thunder produced an epic 733.7 with a -8.8 from Westbrook. Go KD/Westbrook
2014 Thunder produced 389.2 with a 383.9 from peak KD
2006 Mavs-206.8, 13 without Dirk
2007 Mavs-270.3, 69 without Dirk
2011 Mavs-332.4, 139.1 without Dirk
2006 Lakers-64.2, minus 54.1 without Kobe
2008 Lakers-400.4, 256.2 without Kobe
2009 Lakers-136.5, 69.7 without Kobe
2010 Lakers-minus 74.9, minus 82.6 without Kobe
Your first reaction when you see pretty much all of these is probably " But wait. Insert Context Here". Yeah, me too, as I did with Paul. There's a whole bunch of reasons why the numbers bear out this way, very few of which have anything to do with how much better these players make their teammates. Basically Paul has a much bigger effect on his teammates efficiency than TS Add would suggest.
OKC's TS Add for every Westbrook year post-Durant is a huge negative, and while I personally would be more than happy to point to that as proof that Westbrook is a balhogging cancer that doesn't help his team beyond getting TDs and selling tickets, the more objective takeaway is that TS Add is a very wonky context-dependent stat. CP3 does well with it, but it's probably not the best tool to use to make a judgement like "Chris Paul has managed not to make his teammates better"
. I say this acknowledging that you called it an off-the-cuff argument and most likely have some more evidence to back up your opinion. "Chris Paul does not show signs of massively improving his teammates shooting efficiency the way Nash does"
is far less questionable, but those are two different almost unrelated things.
You also specifically mentioned teammates shooting efficiency, but "making teammates better" should be about more than that imo. Looking at a stat like Ortg which incorporates Paul's greatest strength of turnover reduction, Paul's teams have always been at or near the top in general, elite when he plays and not so much when he doesn't (And he doesn't play a lot, so we should look at his teams' ranking in Ortg with that in mind).
Without even checking, I'm sure there isn't any stat that paints a trend of Paul's teammates doing the same or worse on offense with him than without him. 2019 may taint that a bit, but I'm still confident he'll come out smelling like roses under any stat that measures offensive impact. I think you agree that he's a fantastic offensive guard, so I find it hard to see how you can reconcile that with a lack of making teammates better.
There is a general trend of Nash's teammates being significantly affected in TS Add by playing with him, and you just don't see the same thing from Paul.
Does that mean Paul isn't a great offensive point guard? No. Paul's value add comes from turnover reduction. The Clippers went from last in TO% to 2nd in the entire league with Paul's arrival. That's no small thing...but it's not what we typically talk about when we talk about a facilitator "making life easy for his teammates".
This is part of the broader point where Nash is a guy who looks to punish the defense for giving any opening at all as soon as (or even before) the window of opportunity opens, whereas Paul looks to slow things down and make sure that possessions aren't ruined with mistakes. That's why we call Nash ultra-aggressive and Paul conservative.
Which is better? The data in general seems to indicate that Nash's way has a higher ceiling. Taking risks is dangerous, but when you're smart enough to pull it off, it's worth doing.
There's a lot of evidence to suggest that players tend to shoot better playing next to Nash than Paul. That would hold true for all but a few PGs in history, so I don't see that as saying much in the way of "Paul doesn't make his teammates better". "Nash makes his teammates better than Paul does his", sure I can get on board with that.
None of this means that Paul can't make up the difference with defense, but there's also the matter of the frustration Paul's teammates tend to feel with him. I think we generally have this sense of "You keep telling me I need to do things your way but I'm fine doing things my way" with Paul's teammates that literally has truth to it, and this eventually leading to toxic relationships. Meanwhile, people loved playing with Nash. Even the ones who chose to leave, it's not because they actually disliked playing with Nash. He was always a joy to play with.
Yeah there is definitely that. Personally I would find his poor durability more annoying than his attitude if I were his teammate. If Jordan were made of glass like CP3 is, his teammates would be far less willing to call him a great leader because they wouldn't win anything and
get chewed out constantly.