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Chris Paul — Still the NBA’s Best PG — On the Trading Block?

Posted by Neil Paine on June 24, 2010

According to ESPN, the Hornets could be open to trade offers for Chris Paul.

WTF?

Contrary to what you may have heard from various talking heads during the playoffs, Chris Paul is still the best PG in the NBA. He was the best PG in the NBA in 2008, when he led the league in Win Shares, was 2nd in PER (behind LeBron James), and finished 2nd in MVP shares. He was the best PG in the NBA in 2009, when he was 2nd in the league in WS, 3rd in PER (behind James & Dwyane Wade), and 5th in MVP shares. And yes, even in an injury-plagued 2010 season, Paul was still the NBA's top PG when healthy -- he still led all PGs with a minimum of 1700 MP in WS/48 and PER.

What's the matter? You're one of those luddites who still doesn't believe the metrics? Fine, Chris Paul is still the NBA's best PG even if you use MVP voting, the most conventional of wisdoms:

MVP Share
Player Pos 2010 2009 2008 2007 BPITNBA
LeBron James SF 0.980 0.969 0.348 0.142 0.766
Kobe Bryant SG 0.487 0.577 0.877 0.404 0.584
Dwight Howard C 0.389 0.271 0.048 0.000 0.246
Dwyane Wade SG 0.097 0.562 0.000 0.002 0.208
Kevin Durant SF 0.495 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.198
Chris Paul PG 0.000 0.159 0.706 0.000 0.189
Dirk Nowitzki PF 0.045 0.002 0.004 0.882 0.108
Kevin Garnett PF 0.000 0.000 0.532 0.005 0.107
Steve Nash PG 0.040 0.000 0.014 0.785 0.097
Tim Duncan PF 0.000 0.002 0.020 0.222 0.027
Carmelo Anthony SF 0.053 0.000 0.002 0.001 0.022
Tracy McGrady SF 0.000 0.000 0.015 0.085 0.012
Chauncey Billups PG 0.001 0.027 0.000 0.003 0.009
Amare Stoudemire C 0.004 0.000 0.021 0.002 0.006
Paul Pierce SF 0.000 0.017 0.001 0.000 0.005
Chris Bosh PF 0.001 0.000 0.000 0.033 0.004
Deron Williams PG 0.006 0.000 0.003 0.000 0.003
Manu Ginobili SG 0.002 0.000 0.007 0.000 0.002
Gilbert Arenas PG 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.024 0.002
Tony Parker PG 0.000 0.007 0.000 0.001 0.002

Let's take a look at the fine lineage of Best PGs in the NBA by Justin's MVP shares method:

You wouldn't trade Bob Cousy in his prime. You wouldn't trade Magic Johnson in his prime. Or Jerry West. And Oscar Robertson didn't get traded until he was 32 years old. So why are the Hornets even entertaining the possibility of trading Chris Paul, who at 25 years old is -- say it with me -- the best point guard in the NBA? You want to rebuild? This is the guy you rebuild around. No matter how bad your financial situation is, you don't trade the best PG in the NBA for draft picks, spare parts, and cap space. Period.

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34 Responses to “Chris Paul — Still the NBA’s Best PG — On the Trading Block?”

  1. Joe Schaller Says:

    Can't argue with that Neil. Paul showed in his rookie season that he had the potential to become one of the all time great point guards if not the greatest. Until this past season he was on track to do that. All he needs is a return to 100% health and the right setting, the Hornets have too many bad contracts.

  2. Walter Says:

    Neil, while I agree with your post you missed the single most important reason.... MONEY!

    The Hornets are basically broke. Would you sell a brand new Ferrari for $50,000? Probably not. Would you sell a brand new Ferrari for $50,000 if it meant you kept your house? As painful as it would be I would think yes.

    The Hornets have no contracts that anyone would want other than Paul. Their only choice is to look at using Paul as the bait to get another team to take a bad contract (or two) so that they can keep the team.

  3. Slips Says:

    Every time I hear someone say "trade paul since collison has shown he's a great PG" I go haywire. How about trading collison for a young talented SG or SF to fill a position of need? If the hornets are looking to move a contract, it has to be okafor's. Someone desperate for him will eventually bite. You don't trade away a perennial MVP candidate in his prime. Just doesn't make any sense, financial concerns or not.

  4. Caleb Says:

    "So why are the Hornets even entertaining the possibility of trading Chris Paul?"

    I don't think they are. This is likely mostly rumor and World Wide Wes BSing. Shinn released a statement yesterday essentially saying that CP is the cornerstone they are building around. And once the ownership transfer goes through... new owner Chouest has expressed that keeping CP in NO is a huge priority.

    "The Hornets are basically broke."

    They are? Please support this speculation with some actual data. You saying it hardly makes it true.

    People also need to keep in mind that the Hornets largest contract, Peja's, EXPIRES after this year... opening up lots of cap room.

    Visit http://www.hornets247.com/blog/2010/06/22/addressing-the-trade-rumors-obliquely
    for a great post on the subject.

  5. Raj Says:

    How on earth did Mark Price beat out Stockton 3 years running?

  6. Neil Paine Says:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/awards/awards_1992.html#mvp

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/awards/awards_1993.html#mvp

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/awards/awards_1994.html#mvp

  7. Jason J Says:

    Stockton was universally under-appreciated outside of Salt Lake for many years. I remember a lot of people thinking Timbug, Price, and / or KJ were at his level or better, though I never really understood why. Maybe because John's game had just about zero flash in it.

    The reason Price is on there more than any other early early 90s PG is probably because Cleveland was considered a contender and most of those other teams weren't (right or wrong).

  8. Jason J Says:

    Oh, also, most voters considered Malone the more MVP-worthy of the two players which stole most of the attention Stock may have garnered. On the other side, I think Price and Dougherty were basically seen as equals.

  9. DSMok1 Says:

    Here's this year's SPM-based numbers:

    Player PARP-GM
    1. LeBron James 12.37
    2. Dwyane Wade 9.18
    3. Kevin Durant 8.48
    4. Chris Paul 7.97
    5. Dwight Howard 7.32

    This is in points contributed above replacement player per game played. -3 is replacement level, and this accounts for how many minutes the player actually played in the games they actually played. Chris Paul was the 4th best player in the league, when healthy!

    For comparison, some other PG's:
    Player PARP-GM
    Jason Kidd 6.64
    Deron Williams 5.97
    Rajon Rondo 5.96
    Baron Davis 4.29
    Tyreke Evans 4.03
    Steve Nash 3.57

    (I think the SPM overrates Kidd and underrates Nash. In my beta regressions, Nash is way higher.)

  10. Neil Paine Says:

    What's the beta formula, DSM? Is it in the thread at APBRmetrics?

  11. DSMok1 Says:

    I've got 2, one of which (the better one) includes stats you don't have here--charges taken, locations of assists (3 bins), and subtracting out "assisteds". It has Nash as the best offensive player over the last 4 years (I haven't run the single season SPMs yet). Dirk was second best. Of course, Nash's defense was so bad that he showed up as 9th overall...

    I haven't made a thread yet, because I'm really busy right now.

  12. Neil Paine Says:

    I remember you had a formula that used Ast%, Usg%, TS%, etc., but I can't find it on APBRmetrics. Is that one of the betas?

  13. DSMok1 Says:

    Yes. I think it has the most promise for you all, because of it's applicability historically. However, I haven't yet figured out how to include AST% in the term with scoring, which is currently of the form ((TS%*2*(1-a*TO%))-PPPThresh)*USG%*b. The theoretically correct regression would include assists inside the usage-effected term, though USG would have to be adjusted for AST%. I can't quite figure out how to do that. Perhaps adding a term so it's like ((TS%*2*(1-a*TO%))+(c*AST%-d)-PPPThresh)*(USG%+(c*AST%-d))*b? But AST% means different things depending on how high of a usage the PLAYER has. So perhaps multiply the AST% in the above equation with a (1-USG%) term. Hmmm... That might actually work!

    I'll play around with it.

    The current BETA regression of that type is at: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ah1NfCUslJwxdEhreTd4OGN3SzU1b2U5YXNmTG1JeVE&hl=en#gid=0

  14. Anon x 2 Says:

    Chris Paul is definitely the best PG in the league.

    But as someone said, it's about money. If Shinn sells the team, which he's trying, CP3 goes nowhere. If he can't sell it, the owner wants to unload Okafor's contract and use CP3 as the bait.

    It's sad, really. Paul is a great fit for the city of New Orleans but he doesn't deserve to be playing for such a cheapskate owner.

    But I'm certain New Orleans doesn't give up Paul without getting a lot in return in terms of relief and picks, and quite honestly I don't see it happening this year.

  15. Walter Says:

    @4 Caleb:
    "The Hornets are basically broke."

    They are? Please support this speculation with some actual data. You saying it hardly makes it true.

    There 2009 Operating Income was $-100,000 so they actually LOST money.

    In the year 2009 they played roughly 63% of their games from the 2008-09 season and the other 37% from the 2009-10 season. The attendance for 2008-09 was 695,727 and for 2009-10 it was 617,336. That means the approximate attendance for the calendar year 2009 was 665,000. If New Orleans has the same attendance in the 2010-11 season as it did this year the results would be 617,336 for the year and so the drop in attendance from calendar year 2009 to 2010 would be roughly 48,000 or roughly 7.2%.

    The Hornets made $28 Million in receipts at the gate in 2009 so they would see a decrease of roughly $2 Million.

    The Hornets salaries next season are projected to be roughly $3 Million higher than they were this season.

    So in summary: The Hornets lost a small amount of money in 2009. Their attendance in 2010 is projected to dropped over 7% meaning they will lose another $2 Million in gate revenue. Their salaries increased roughly $3 Million. The 2009 year included two home playoff games as added revenue they didn't have in 2010. The conclusion is that they will show much larger losses in 2010 (roughly $5 Million).

    That isn't a good sign for a team that was 28th out of 30th in Team Value according to Forbes. They could easily be 30th after next year.

  16. Caleb Says:

    Thanks for actually giving me some data. However, I'd imagine there are many non-playoff teams who ultimately lost money no?

    The team starts winning again and I doubt there's much to worry about... especially with some of the team's worst contracts coming off the books after this upcoming season. As others have said the only way CP gets traded is if Shinn somehow orchestrates it before the sale to Chouest is final. If Shinn's statements are to be believed, that's not going to happen. And even if you don't believe Shinn... I don't see it happening. The fanbase would revolt.

  17. Walter Says:

    Caleb, I normally would say it has 0% chance of happening but because of the financial issues and the owner's desire to sell the team I think there is a chance (albeit a small one). I personally still don't think they move Paul.

    I actually think they should try to package Collison with Okafur if they have to dump salary. I am a Lakers fan and I wouldn't mind a Collison & Okafur for Bynum & Vujacic type of deal if it were offered.

  18. Johnny Says:

    Neil,

    1996 is incorrect. Penny Hardaway was a PG that season and was 3rd in MVP voting with 0.319 shares.

  19. Neil Paine Says:

    That's true, if we decide Penny was a PG, he was the NBA's best by Justin's method in 1996 and 1997. Of course, we list Penny as a "SG/PG/SF", with the primary position coming first, so in our db he's a SG. As always when it comes to positions, your mileage may very -- as another example, it's not clear that Jerry West was a PG (he played a hybrid PG/SG style that they simply called "guard" back then).

  20. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Caleb, I normally would say it has 0% chance of happening but because of the financial issues and the owner's desire to sell the team I think there is a chance (albeit a small one). I personally still don't think they move Paul.

    I actually think they should try to package Collison with Okafur if they have to dump salary. I am a Lakers fan and I wouldn't mind a Collison & Okafur for Bynum & Vujacic type of deal if it were offered."

    ugh, please no. This is a horrible trade for L.A.

  21. Ian Says:

    I would love it if my Portland Trailblazers could land him somehow.

  22. Duff Soviet Union Says:

    "I would love it if my Portland Trailblazers could land him somehow."

    Maybe they could get him for Martell Webster and a bag of peanuts. No, I'm not still bitter or anything.

  23. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Chris Paul had knee surgery and missed half the season. I don't believe it's such a certainty that he's still the best point guard in the league. Past performance is no guarantee of future results once he's been operated on. Unless you've observed the condition of his cartilage, how can you know what he is right now, and in the immediate future?

  24. Neil Paine Says:

    Plenty of players -- Brandon Roy, Jameer Nelson, etc. -- make it back from that injury. This is the 2010s; it's no longer a death sentence for your career. Paul deserves the benefit of the doubt since he was still the best PG in the league last season if you lower the minimum playing-time requirements.

  25. Jason J Says:

    But Rondo had a good playoffs, and his team made the finals... According to the commentators on ESPN that makes him the best point guard in the league. Would Magic Johnson lie to me?

  26. P Middy Says:

    Even Bill Simmons, perhaps the most pessimistic of all bball writers, put him as an absolutely-do-not-trade-under-any-conditions player AFTER the surgery.

    If your the Hornets, you have to keep him . . . unless you know ahead of time you are not going to put the money and effort into getting the pieces to make the team a real competitor in the West (they know). Then you better trade him and get the most you can before he's a disgruntled superstar demanding a trade halfway through the season, and you suddenly wind up with Jason Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson as the face of your franchise (for example). Unless, of course, you want to market David West and his Kratos-looking face instead.

  27. cjd Says:

    Sorry Deron Williams is the best point gaurd right now. DWill smoked cp3 everytime they faced each other!!!!

  28. Neil Paine Says:

    Do we have a burgeoning Olajuwon-Robinson/Rock-Paper-Scissors situation with those two?

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=CkJYX

    (For the uninitiated, Olajuwon owned David Robinson head-to-head but Robinson played much better than the Dream vs. everyone else... Which begs the question: how can you definitively say who's better? If I'm better against you but you're better than me against everybody else, am I really better than you? It's like rock-paper-scissors -- rock is better than scissors, but paper is better than rock, and scissors are better than paper. So which one of the three is the best?)

  29. RONDO Says:

    how can you say paul is the best point guard in 2010!! RONDO is the best you idiots. he led a whole team no no carried the team by himself, and you still do not consider the best point guard

  30. Neil Paine Says:

    Poor KG, Allen, and Pierce -- once they were the Big 3, but now I guess they're just chopped liver. After all, Rondo apparently carried the C's to within a game of the championship "by himself".

  31. P Middy Says:

    RE: #28 - Well, Dreamshake did win two rings as the main guy on his team. Admiral was already second fiddle by the time he won his . . . of course, so would have Hakeem if he had won in 99, and 00 instead of 94 and 95 . . .

  32. Romain Says:

    Neil, since you're bringing up the Hakeem vs. Robinson debate...

    I'm surprised that you always fail to mention how D-Rob's production dropped dramatically in the PO compared to the RS.
    There's no questionning that he was an outstanding RS player, but at some point in your analysis you have to take into account how he repeatedly tanked in the PO when he was the best player on his team. I guess he was just too soft.
    For instance if you look at WS/48 it's just a joke:
    1990: 0.219 in the PO vs 0.241 in the RS
    1991: 0.234 vs 0.264
    1992: DNP in the PO
    1993: 0.172 vs 0.197
    1994: 0.105 vs 0.296
    1995: 0.176 vs 0.273
    1996: 0.214 vs 0.290

    I don't mention his career after Duncan's arrival. I know he had a very good 1999 season (including the PO for a change!) but when you compare him to other all-time greats like Hakeeem I think you have to stick to his prime when he was the best player on his team.

    I think the Paul/Williams situation that you mention can be compared to the Federer/Nadal rivlary for those who love tennis.
    For instance, at his absolute peak in 2006 Federer was mind-blowing, going 92-5, winning 12 tournaments including 3 Slams of out 4 and the Masters, reaching a total of 16 finals in 17 tournaments... And yet Nadal who was world n° 2 owned him head-to-head, beating him 4 times in a row between February and June of that year!
    So who's the best? I pick Federer but on the basis of their head-to-head some disagree.

  33. Joseph Says:

    DSMok1, is the sort for Nash being the best offensively under TORtg?

  34. Big E Says:

    #27 Cjd-it's time to come up with something new dude. Deron has a better supporting cast than Paul. Would you take West and Peja over Boozer and AK? Would you take Scott/Bower over Sloan? Come on now son. Time to get some new reasons. That reason paired with "Deron is bigger" is as tired an argument as they come. When will Deron be a serious MVP candidate? When will he lead in a stat at his position? When will he average less turnovers than Paul? When will he make an All-NBA First Team? Come on now.