In the third straight game where Chris Paul didn’t register a point in the first half, some light has been shed on what’s ailing the Rockets point guard.
After last night’s 98-80 blowout loss to a Westbrook-less Thunder, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon’s reported that Paul is currently dealing with an elbow injury to his shooting arm that “he wont discuss.”
Chris Paul is dealing with a right elbow injury that he won't discuss. Asked how much it's impacting his shooting, he said, "I can play better." He's taking a big share of the blame for the Rockets' offensive struggles.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 9, 2018
Strains, bruising, and general soreness is something that comes with a long, demanding season, so, typically this wouldn’t be something worry about. Unfortunately, this may be more serious. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that it his elbow has been wrapped after games for the past week.
Asked again about what is wrong with his right elbow, Chris Paul again said "I don't know." Was wrapped postgame as it has been for the past week.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) November 9, 2018
Given the time frame, it would explain most of Paul’s shooting woes for the past three games. Over this stretch, he has shot an abysmal 10-of-34 from the field from field for a basement-low 34-percent. Even more daunting is the fact that he has made zero three-pointers on 13 attempts, and he’s shooting 57-percent from the free-throw line.
There has been a lot of speculation over Paul’s sudden statistical decline this season, and this injury may be the answer. In eight games on the season, he’s shooting a career-low 39-percent from the field and 78-percent from the free-throw line to go along with his lowest percentage from three since his rookie season, 27-percent.
It’s not all bad, though. There have been shades of the great point guard that we are used to.
In the two games he played before his suspension, Paul shot a combined 15-of-29 from the field, including 6-of-13 from three, and averaged 23.5 points and 8 assists a game. Despite slumping two games after his return to a Harden-less Rockets, he looked to have finally broken out with a monster 32-point, 11-assist game against the Brooklyn Nets. His assists and steals numbers have also remained high all this season- Paul is actually averaging his highest steals numbers since his ‘13-’14 season.
Now in his 14th season, some fans are arguing that age is the issue, but as mentioned earlier, look no further than his free-throw percentage. A career 87-percent free-throw shooter, Paul shot a career-high 91-percent from the free-throw line last year, and now he’s shooting a career low. No matter how old a player gets, great free-throw shooting isn’t lost on them, especially by that wide of a margin. His issues are likely attributed to either his health or mechanics.
With Eric Gordon reeling from injury as well, the Rockets need to find some answers quickly with a tough four-game stretch against the Spurs, Pacers, Nuggets, and Warriors ahead of them.