You can make a case for a lot of guys being the best point guard of his generation. Whether by using the eye test or the stats test, though, it's hard to put anyone since Magic Johnson above Chris Paul. Dude never turns it over, is an assist monster, can score at will (and efficiently at that), plays defense, picks up steals as frequently as anyone of his generation, and has always been able to make bad teams ok and good teams great. What more could you want out of a point guard?
John Wall, along with Steph Curry and perhaps Kyle Lowry, is starting to give him a run for his money, but so far there's still no strong case to be made that he's better. If Wall's going to supplant CP3 as the league's best point guard, a good start would be straight up destroying him and the Clippers in their first meeting of the season. Let's see how this one goes.
Where and when? Gametime is 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center. You can ch-ch-ch-check it out on Comcast.
Who's out? Martell Webster for Washignton, although it looks like he may be back relatively soon since he's participating in practices again. The Clippers are missing Chris Douglas Roberts while Jamal Crawford and Reggie Bullock are questionable for tonight's game.
Are they good? Obviously, yes, they're very good. Los Angeles is 16-5 in a brutally difficult conference and boasts a the league's third most effective offense and 11th most effective defense on a per-possession basis. They're not quite favorites to win the NBA championship this year but they're one of those teams that wouldn't surprise anyone if they did.
What are they good at?
What are they bad at? Rebounding, believe it or not. Despite the rpesence of Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan, as well as above average rebounders on the perimeter like Paul and Matt Barnes (well, formerly above average rebounders in his case), the Clippers are only 29th in the NBA in rebounds and dead last in offensive boards. The latter can be a product of scheme - Doc Rivers' Boston teams never did well on the offensive glass, but that's because they were intentionally more focused on getting back to prevent transition opportunities - but the former is inexcusable for a team with LA's size, athleticism and veteran big men who should have figured out how to box out by now.
How's Chris Paul doing? In just under 35 minutes per game he's averaging 18 points, 10.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and shooting 51% from the floor and almost 40% from deep while turning the ball over about half as many times per game as Wall. Yeah, CP3 is still pretty good. If there's anything that can be critiqued about his game, and this is the one area where Wall has a major advantage, it's that he's too small to see over the defense so he tends to pound the ball too much, limiting his teams' ball movement and getting more assists than he'd like as a result of dribbling around the court until he finds an open jump shooter. Wall, on the other hand, tends to drive to the basket and immediately kick out to an open shooter or rolling big, leading to more efficient shots for the beneficiaries of his assists.
What would John Wall need to do to surpass CP3? Cut his turnovers, improve his jump shot, and get his three point percentage closer to 40%. If he did that and continued to play defense and pass like he does now, he would be the best point guard in the league, hands down.
Who's going to win? Y'all aren't going to want to hear this but I'm going with Los Angeles. CP3 gets the better of Wall more often than not and it's easy for Gortat and Nene to become overwhelmed by the springiness and aggressiveness of Griffin and Jordan. Nene can check Griffin as well as anyone in the NBA, but with him pre-occupied, it becomes a lot easier for Jordan to cut to the rim for dunks and Paul to get there for layups and his elite floater. If Washington wins this one it's going to be a result of either luck or a good team playing a flawless game.