Latest NBA Leads

Chris Paul is the Reason for the Phoenix Suns' Postseason and Should Be the NBA MVP

By Stephen Douglas
Chris Paul for MVP?
Chris Paul for MVP? / Elsa/Getty Images
facebooktwitter

Chris Paul should be the MVP for the 2020-2021 NBA season. He may not be having the best statistical season, but his impact and value is quite literally measurable in wins and loses. The Suns currently have the second-best record in the NBA after missing the playoffs for a decade straight. They're going to finish with their best record since the Steve Nash Suns in '06-'07. Quite simply, Paul is the reason for the postseason.

How else can you express how valuable Chris Paul is to the Suns? If you took him off this roster they would be fighting for a spot in play-in tournament. There is no question, even with their incredible bubble performance last year.

The Suns going from sub-.500 to hosting a first-round playoff series is an incredible leap, but it's not even registering as a surprise because Paul is involved. Wherever he has gone, he has won. Paul's teams - the Hornets, Clippers, Rockets and Thunder - missed the postseason just once since 2008. That was the '09-'10 Hornets who were without Paul for 37 games in a loaded Western Conference.

The Hornets went from 18 to 38 wins in his rookie year. The year before he arrived in Los Angeles, the Clippers went 32-50. In his first season there they finished with their best winning percentage in franchise history. They would be better every other year he was on the team. They also won their second playoff series since 1976.

The Rockets went from 55 wins to 65 wins and lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games in the Western Conference Finals. Paul missed the final two games of the series after Houston took a 3-2 lead.

Last year the Thunder traded Paul George and Russell Westbrook from a team that had won 49 games. Most people thought they would be bad, trade Paul and tank. Instead, Paul came to OKC and led them to their best winning percentage since Kevin Durant left.

Now he's doing the same with Phoenix. Improving them an almost unbelievable amount. Generally, MVPs come from one of the top teams in the league. That's Paul. Obviously, there are arguments for Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetonkounmpo, but why not Paul? His team has a better record than all their teams.

If you want to call this a career achievement award for Paul, go ahead. He deserves it. At the age of 22 he finished second in the '07-'08 MVP voting behind Kobe Bryant. His best statistical season came in '08-'09 when he averaged a career-high 22.8 points per game, led the NBA in assists and steals with 11 and 2.8 per game respectively, and led the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) to the best record in franchise history (49-32). That was good for a fifth-place finish.

He finished 13th in MVP voting in '10-'11, third in '11-'12, fourth in '12-'13, seventh in '13-'14, sixth in '14-'15, sixth in '15-'16, and seventh in '19-'20.

If voters love storylines, then Paul is the pick. If voters value winning, the Paul is the pick. He's played in 60 of 61 games. The Nuggets, Sixers and Bucks didn't make a leap of any kind with their MVP candidates. Paul transformed the Suns from a team that could be good someday to a team that is good today.

If you think about it, Paul's playing career mirrors Andy Reid's coaching career. They win. They win every single year. They win wherever they are. They seem to be geniuses, but Reid never really got the credit he deserved until he won a Super Bowl. Paul is stuck in that pre-Super Bowl spot. Clearly one of the best ever, but never properly celebrated for his greatness.

The fact that this Suns team that won 34 teams last year could be the one to get Paul the championship he needs is crazy. And if they do, it will be because of Paul. And during an MVP season to boot? Fitting for one of the best to ever do it.

facebooktwitter