Chris Paul will not be joining James Harden as an All-Star this year. He probably should be.
There’s no argument to be made that All-Stars Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson are better than he is, either this year or certainly over their careers. But Lillard, Thompson, Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler — the four guards selected as reserves — have played 40, 47, 47 and 45 games, respectively. Chris Paul has played 28.
That is, or at least should be, 100 percent of the reason CP3 was left off the ballot. The Rockets have the second-best record in the NBA, and Paul is a huge part of that. He’s averaging 19 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and almost 2 steals per game. The Rockets are 23-5 in the games he’s played, good for a .821 winning percentage, better than the Warriors’ win percentage on the year.
All of this is to say: Chris Paul should be an All-Star. He’s one of the five greatest to ever play his position, and anyone watching the Rockets can see that he is a dominant force every minute he’s on the floor, on both ends. His two-way play is tremendous — this is a seven-time, first-team All-Defense player averaging career highs in rebounds and blocks — and he’s integrated with a singular offense talent without any dropoff in effectiveness or efficiency.
If the All-Star Game were to be played in late February, and the voting were to happen two weeks later, this might have gone another way. But it didn’t.
But it’s OK that he didn’t make it. He’s made nine of these games, and, assuming he’s healthier at this point next year, he’ll make some more. This year’s game figures to be more competitive than in the past few years, meaning more exertion, more risk for injury, and less rest for the participants. That sounds like something we should want our taxed franchise players to avoid.
Let Lillard enjoy his moment. The last time he was in the NBA spotlight was shooting the shot that we still don’t talk about (will never forgive you, Chandler). Klay getting another All-Star appearance for playing (worse) defense (than CP3) and never dribbling is fine. Hopefully he signs a big free agent contract elsewhere soon and is exposed as a midlevel, above-average player who doesn’t belong in the position he is now, participating in the ASG while CP3 and Paul George sit out.
Russell Westbrook is the Thunder’s best player, and anyone expecting CP3 — a player who inarguably influences more winning than Brodie — to take his place in the pecking order behind the Point God hasn’t been paying attention.
The NBA voting community has shown us time and again that it values raw stats and round numbers over the bigger picture. So games played, triple-doubles and three-point shooting percentage, devoid of context, were always going to trump defense and winning basketball. Not everyone is enlightened, but the smartest among us know the truth.
Rick Carlisle on James Harden and Chris Paul: "They're both unbelievable players. And even though Chris has missed some games this year, I voted for him for All-Star. I saw his game against Golden State, and that did it for me. I don't care how many games he misses." #DALvsHOU— Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) January 24, 2018
This is why we shouldn’t work ourselves into a tizzy. I’ve only just gotten over James Harden’s second MVP snub. The Rockets have bigger ambitions that the honor of playing in an exhibition game.
Is Paul disappointed? Probably, and he should be.
Should we be furious? No. The Rockets still haven’t lost a game when they’re fully healthy. Let’s appreciate what we have, and make sure the conversation is centered around how awesome the Rockets are, not how much everyone in the NBA sucks for not acknowledging it.