Prior to Sunday, Chris Paul had started all 1,365 games of his NBA career. But with Draymond Green back, Paul came off the bench against the Rockets and played a pivotal role in helping the Warriors escape with a 106-95 victory.
Paul finished with eight points, seven assists and five rebounds. The most important number: one turnover. The Warriors, dating back to their glory days, have long been plagued by two main problems: holding onto the ball, and surviving the non-Stephen Curry minutes. Paul effectively addresses both.
On Sunday, Curry came out of the game for the first time at the 4:10 mark of the first quarter, The Warriors were trailing by three. At the 7:42 mark of the second quarter, when Curry re-entered, the Warriors were up by 13.
Do the math, and the Warriors didn’t just survive the non-Curry minutes; they outscored the Rockets by 16 points in the eight and a half minutes he was off the floor. Who was on the floor during those minutes? Paul.
For the game, the Warriors outscored the Rockets by a team-high 22 points during Paul’s minutes. It’s a familiar number. When they defeated the Kings on Friday, they also won Paul’s minutes by 22 points. He posted 10 points and 12 assists (4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) in that one.
Trying to quantify what Paul clearly brings to the Warriors?
The word you’re looking for is stability.
Paul is clearly diminished in terms of his ability to create shots for himself, and really even for others. He looks relatively slow and has shown little pop on his patented mid-range shot. Sometimes you wonder if he can even get it off; when he does, it has been short more often than not.
But what you’re seeing is the value of an offensive organizer, and how much more that can mean to a team like the Warriors than, say, another erratically electric scorer like Jordan Poole, who exacerbated all of Golden State’s worst collective habits.
As the Warriors’ system spits out open shooters, Paul isn’t doing anything fancy; he’s just passing the ball where it needs to be passed. Notably, not to the other team.
Paul, who is yet to make a 3-point shot this season (I hate to say it, but it looks almost out of his range at this point), hit a couple of big mid-range shots down the stretch on Sunday. If he can get that going with the way he’s passing and protecting the ball, his value will go up even more.
As it is, he’s already paying major dividends.