What the Los Angeles Clippers Need from Chris Paul Next Season

Arguably the top point guard in the entire league, Chris Paul has helped transform the Los Angeles Clippers into one of the league’s elite teams. While Paul has been nothing short of awesome, Doc Rivers needs a more unique version of the elite point guard. Especially if the Clippers are to reach the franchise’s first conference finals.

Make no mistake, Paul’s talents are a major reason for the Clippers’ turnaround over the past three seasons. However, the postseason results have been disappointing. Paul needs to refine his game and adjust his tendency to dominate the ball.

Last season Doc Rivers proved to Paul that increasing the tempo and limiting his control over the ball improved the team. Mainly, because Blake Griffin was ready to help Paul carry the load offensively.

Paul’s talents are remarkable, but even the most talented players need help getting to the top. The fire that burns within Paul’s competitive soul help make him a fearless leader, but talent, chemistry and a little bit of luck are what win titles. The talent is now available but one last thing is missing; a change in philosophy.

 

Paul’s Past

Despite Paul’s immense talents he has never led his team past the second round of the playoffs. Widely regarded as one of the 10 best players in the league for years, his playoff results are underwhelming. Some of that blame can be placed on his supporting cast, but the common denominator is Paul.

According to basketball-reference.com, Paul’s playoff averages of 20.6 points, 9.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals are extraordinary. Unfortunately, the underlying theme behind those statistics revolve around his penchant for dominating the ball.

Again, his ball dominance ties in with his lack of a superior supporting cast. The main problem has always been the lack of another high-usage scorer.

The chart above tells all. David West was Paul’s highest usage sidekick until arriving in Los Angeles. West has never been mistaken for someone that can create his own shot, let alone set up his teammates for baskets.

Those not listed include 46 games of Marcus Thornton, Jarrett Jack, Jannero Pargo, Peja Stojakovic again. The picture is pretty clear, Paul needed help.

Even after joining the Clippers in 2011, not much changed. Paul finally had someone who could create offense and score 20 points per game, but needed to be fed the ball in certain areas on the floor to score. That mean a ball dominant Paul had to take control of the offense, especially in the playoffs.

Much like with the New Orleans Hornets, defenses were able to key on Paul, taking away his passing lanes and forcing the 6’0” point guard to win games nearly single-handedly. Yet again, Paul has been unable to advance out of the second round. For all of Paul’s talents, it would be nearly impossible for him to win multiple playoff series each season on his own.

 

A New Paul

The arrival of Doc Rivers provided instantaneous legitimacy for the franchise. Rivers is passionate, sensible and brutally honest. Chris Paul found this out immediately, according to Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears.

As professional athletes, you always want someone to push you and motivate you, Paul said. The first meeting I had with Doc, he pretty much told me I wasn’t anything. He told me I hadn’t done anything in this league, and he was right. You don’t always want somebody that’s going to tell you what you want to hear.

Reflecting on this quote brings clarification to the entire 2013-14 Clippers season. Rivers needed to breakdown the undesirable habits and attitudes of the players on his new roster. He needed to mold their talents into a new system that took pressure off Paul, gave Blake Griffin more offensive responsibility, kept the floor spread and featured DeAndre Jordan as the defensive anchor.

Paul seemed hesitant early, as Rivers preached tempo, speed and sharing the ball. It was not until Paul missed a month of action with a separated shoulder, that he fully appreciated what Rivers was preaching. Largely, because he was able to see the offense excel without him.

According to NBA.com, from January 4 until Paul’s return on February 9, the Clippers were second in the league in scoring and had a plus-8.1 scoring differential. Rivers’ system was dynamic and lethal, because the team was playing fast and spreading the floor around Griffin.

Every game Paul missed, the league’s best point guard had a front-row seat to Rivers’ explosive offense despite his presence on the floor. The more the team pushed tempo and shared the ball, the more difficult the offense was to defend.

Paul now completely understood his role in the offense and the transition upon his return was seamless, mentioned ESPN’s J.A. Adande.

He still has the ball in his hand a lot, Rivers said. We want him to have the ball; he’s the best player in the league with it. But we also feel like it’s harder to guard him when he gives it up and comes back, and then they can’t load up.

So how do the Clippers improve upon last season? It starts with Paul. The lessons he learned during his first season with Rivers are vital to the success the team seeks this season.

Griffin has proven that he can carry the load along with Paul. No longer will there be a need for Paul to create every shot after pounding the ball into the floor for 15 seconds, waiting for someone to come free for an assist.

The offense can flow through Griffin, forcing the defense to shift to Paul coming of rubs and screens. Griffin’s much-improved jumper now gives Paul one of the best pick-and-roll/pop partners in the league.

Most important of all, Paul has a leader on the sidelines. Someone to hold everyone else accountable so he can focus on playing basketball. Someone for the team’s heart and soul to believe in. A man that Paul respects.

Finally, Paul needs to do a little less, so everyone else can do a bit more. A more balanced offense and a commitment to defense will be the key to this season. His old tendencies are sure to re-emerge, but it is time for Paul to trust the others around him and stick to Rivers’ system.

The talent and structure Paul needs is now firmly in place. He just needs to take advantage of it.

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Paul George Braves Through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Paul George is one tough guy.

The Indiana Pacers star recently took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, despite his hatred for being cold. Many people run away immediately after getting soaked in order to try to warm up, but considering it has been less than a month since George suffered a gruesome leg injury, he had no choice but to sit in the chair and freeze.

George posted the following hashtags to go with the video: #DidISayIHateBeingCold, #iTriedToRunAway and #OhICantRun

Kudos to George for braving his way through the challenge. He nominated Pacers season-ticket holders Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

[Paul George]

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5 Young NBA Stars Who Could Fill Paul George’s Void Next Season

Paul George‘s brief stint with Team USA was cut short long before he could contribute to the club’s FIBA World Cup competition in Spain.

Even more tragically, he’ll likely miss the NBA season ahead. A freak fast-break play translated into a disturbing leg break, replete with bone penetrating skin.

“I plan on making a full recovery,” George recently told reporters. “It will make me stronger.”

He added, “I would love to play this year. I know there’s a possibility that I won’t be back this year, I’m aware of that.”

The setback couldn’t have come at a worse time for the rising star, especially as his Indiana Pacers attempt to improve upon their recent postseason performances with a legitimate title push. George has established himself as a brilliant all-around two-way player, even garnering some MVP consideration during the early stages of the 2013-14 campaign.

In December of last season, ESPN Stats and Info’s Sunny Saini noted, “The NBA MVP award has been given to the player on a team that finished with the best record 58 percent of the time since 1990 and in four of the past five seasons. If George continues to lead the Pacers to a No. 1 seed, he could become the first Pacers player to win the NBA MVP award.”

The IndyStar’s Candace Buckner later ranked George as the league’s fourth-best player in February, writing, “The next big player in the NBA is no doubt Paul George.”

With George sidelined, who replaces him as the next big thing in the interim? 

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Team USA wore special shooting shirts in honor of injured Paul George

United We Stand.

      
 

 

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Paul George still hopeful of returning this season

Pacers’ Paul George remains hopeful of return to court next season after ‘freak accident’

      
 

 

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Paul George still hopeful of returning this season

Pacers’ Paul George remains hopeful of return to court next season after ‘freak accident’

      
 

 

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Paul George: ‘I would love to play this year’

Paul George knows he could miss the entire season but is trying to maintain optimism.

      
 

 

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Paul George Calls Team USA Injury ‘Freak Accident,’ Interested in 2016 Olympics

Some debate has pervaded the basketball world after Paul George‘s brutal compound leg fracture at a Team USA scrimmage not only knocked him out of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, but also made any appearance during the 2014-15 NBA season extremely doubtful. 

Should star players suit up for international competitions, or should they treasure their NBA experiences and avoid setting themselves up for rising injury risks?

If it helps you make up your mind, George himself would like to weigh in. During a press conference, the All-Star small forward told the world he viewed this as a freak accident: 

In the rising star’s mind, this isn’t the result of overexertion with Team USA. He’s not going to blame the squad for having the team play on a court which featured a stanchion a bit too close to the baseline. 

This was a freak accident. It could’ve happened to anyone at any time. 

Injuries are an inherent risk when playing a physically tolling sport like basketball, and this just as easily could’ve taken place during an NBA game, in which case the outcry would have been far less significant. Kudos to George for making that clear, and you can infer without too many logical leaps that he supports star players continuing to suit up for their countries.

Especially because, you know, he wants to do that himself.

“We’ve told him we have a spot for him in ’16,” Jerry Colangelo, Team USA’s managing director, told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, and he continued with the following: 

We thought it’s the right thing to do. That’s it…We didn’t give thought to all the detail. Just that when a guy goes down and all these things, the circumstances, his career passes before him, he’s out for a year, a year-plus, he’s not able to participate now with us—we wanted to throw that out and say, ‘We’re counting on you. You’ve got a spot in ’16.’

Apparently, it’s a spot George will be taking. 

If he does play in Rio, it’ll probably happen only if he feels strong enough to do so,” wrote Eric Freeman for Yahoo Sports. There’s plenty of time between now and then, but one important part of the process already appears to be out of the way—the mentality. 

PG knows this accident was exactly that—an accident, and a freak one at that. 

A lot can change between now and the summer of 2016, but George’s words—so long as they’re followed up by actions—should all but ensure Team USA doesn’t experience a decline in star power down the road. Following such a devastating injury, the Indiana Pacers star really does have that type of influence. 

 

Do you agree with George? Let me know on Twitter and Facebook.

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Paul George still hopeful of returning this season (Yahoo Sports)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 28: Paul George #24 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates after hitting a shot against the Miami Heat during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 28, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Paul George beat the odds to become an NBA star. Two weeks after a gruesome compound fracture of his right leg, George said Friday he remains hopeful that he can make it back onto the court late next season even though it’s a longshot. George called the injury a ”freak accident.” ”All I can do at this point is sleep, watch TV and lay down, so it’s tough for me. I’m used to being active, lifting weights, being in the gym,” George said as his mother and father watched his news conference from a few feet away.


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USA Basketball to honor Paul George with shirt

Team will come out with a special shooting shirt before exhibition game vs. Brazil

      
 

 

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