Thursday, March 19, 2009

CP Playoff Commercial: Sneak Peak

Video: Chris Paul NBA Playoffs promo

Thanks to Hornets Beat over at for posting and sharing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Head-to-Head: CP3 vs DW8

Thousands upon thousands of words have been devoted to the CP3/D Will debate, and truthfully, it's likely we won't see the death of this subject until one of the two hoists the Larry O'Brien trophy. Until that fateful day arrives, we will continue to argue, debate, punch, kick, and bite in this oft polarizing argument.

The reason I'm chiming in today is because J.A. Adande wrote something that caught my attention a few days ago:

I like Paul as much as the next guy... But it's hard to ignore what Williams and the Jazz have done. And you can't forget the way Williams has dominated Paul in their head-to-head matchups.

Hmmm. Interesting. As of today, the Jazz are 41-25 and the Hornets are 41-24. I suppose he could be referencing the Jazz's recent winning streak of 11, but both teams are 8-2 over their last 10, so I'm not sure that really settles anything.

On the other hand, if the Hornets were doing worse (record-wise) than the Jazz, how could you penalize Paul for this? Most of our losses this season have resulted from a thin bench and declining numbers from a few of our starters (none of whom are named Paul, Chris). Is there really an argument for CP being the inferior player if he's stuck on a team with significantly less depth? I'm not sure there is.

It's Adande's second statement that really prompted this post. For most fans of either team, it's generally accepted that Deron outperforms Chris when the Jazz square off against the Hornets, but, despite the fact this has become "common knowledge," I've never actually seen any numbers that back up the argument.

Is there really a sharp drop in Chris' (or Deron's) production? Or are we maybe remembering a handful of only the most recent contests that may have favored Deron? Let's star by looking at these guys career stats. Then, we'll look at some composite stats for the 12 games in which these guys have faced off*:

Career per game totals


Head to Head per game totals


Difference in production per game


A quick look at the tables reveals that almost all of Paul's statistical contributions see a drop (the exception being FT attempted and FT%), while Williams' numbers seem to shift in both directions. What's interesting is that I wouldn't call either stat line from the head-to-heads amazing (which both players are) or terrible (which both players are not). It seems that they both affect the other's numbers pretty significantly, and why not? After all, they're pretty worthy adversaries.

The real story that these numbers tell is that Williams' size (he's got 3 inches and 30 pounds on Paul) and the Jazz's strong interior defense give him an edge over Paul. The former allows Deron to penetrate in the paint much easier, prompting an increase in points and FG% (and likely explaining the drop in AST). Similarly, the size advantage (and the defensively superior Jazz) prevent Paul from effectively running the pick and roll for easy floaters or even kick-outs to the the open man during a double-team. As a result, we see a sharp drop in points and FG% from Paul. Though he is able to make up some of his scoring ground by going to the stripe much more often – another instance of the Jazz's aggression in the paint – it's hard to argue that Paul performs at the same level against this team as he does against the rest of the league.

From these tables, we might assume that Williams is in fact the better player, since beating your opponent head-on seems to be the ultimate competition. But the problem with that assumption is that it ignores one pretty crucial fact: the Jazz are better than the Hornets. Plain and simple. Their starters match up well against the Bees and their bench is something like a gajillion times better than ours. As a result, Paul is forced to carry the load for a team of under-achievers and gets burned because he's matching up against a larger version of himself.

So there you have it: we've seen that Paul is probably the better individual player**, but that's not much consolation to Hornets fans who have watched their team go 2-10*** in the games featuring both point guards. It will be even less of a consolation if we draw them in the playoffs.

In sum, both of these guys are phenomenal basketball players, and they're both a pleasure to watch (yes, I secretly enjoy watching Williams). But they will continue to be locked into this debate until someone is able to assemble a better team around Paul. Let's just hope that team is the Hornets.


* Unfortunately, the above tables ignore pace, something that might swing the results more to CP's favor, since he has amassed his per game stats playing a much slower game than Deron's Jazz ever play. While the disparities between career and h2h might have been a little less significant if we accounted for pace, it probably would not be enough to change the story.

** My cohort from At the Hive did a pretty thorough examination of both players and their career numbers. Call it biased if you want, but it's a pretty irrefutable argument that Paul is the better player.

*** Though our record sucks against the Jazz, it's worth noting that both times we've played Utah on the road this year, it was a back-to-back with the Lakers as the previous night's opponent. At the Staples Center. Thanks, David Stern.


If you're interested, check out the Basketball-Reference info I used on Paul and on Williams for the tables. You can also download a pdf of the spreadsheet I used to compile the totals and averages.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Next Magic Johnson?

Is Chris Paul as a good (or better) of a point guard as Magic Johnson?

John Hollinger addresses this question one of his latest PER Diems, and he seems to think that the answer is probably "yes." (Though Dave Berri did say it first.) Hollinger admits that both players come from remarkably different eras of play, but this doesn't deter him from making a case for Paul:

Yes, it's easier for a small guard to dominate today's game than it was for John Stockton and Isiah Thomas to dominate in the '80s, and it's true that we don't know whether Paul will have the longevity that the players above enjoyed.

Nonetheless, compare Paul's first four seasons to the first four seasons of any point guard from the postmerger era, and one conclusion becomes evident really fast: The only player who can even plausibly compare to him is Magic Johnson.

This suggestion will obviously set off a bomb of "no ways" and "impossibles" and "don't even bothers" from Laker fans everywhere, but I have yet to find anyone who has written a comprehensive defense of Magic. In fact, most fans think the suggestion is so outrageous that they would rather just dismiss the discussion as opposed to engaging in it.

Fans like J.A. Adande. Mr. Adande not only disagrees with the comparison, but his sole remark on the subject was a terse dismissal of the argument (in his "CP3 vs D Will" article). Here's the mini-rant on why it is "sacrilege" to compare Paul (or anyone probably) to Magic Johnson:

Tell any aspirants to the throne to fill in at center in a Finals game, win five championships and set the career assists record ... maybe after all that we can hold a discussion.

So, apparently CP is out of the running to ever fill Magic's shoes since he probably won't be playing center anytime soon. Never mind the fact that Magic has the height edge by 8 inches (that's right, Magic was a 6'8" point guard) and Paul is probably finished growing. (I suppose it also doesn't matter that Paul, despite his height, is averaging over 5 rebounds a game this season which is only 2 off from Magic's career average.)

But what if we took height out of the argument? Now Paul has to win at least 5 rings and break the assists record. Let's be honest here, the former is not happening. Though I expect Paul will retire with at least 1 ring, he probably won't amass 5. I think it's worth mentioning, though, that Paul doesn't have the same squad of legends playing with him. Who would you rather: Kareem, Worthy, and McAdoo or West, Chandler, and Peja? Neither option is terrible, but the Showtime crew is light years ahead of the Bees.

Ok, so he's too short and he won't win 5 championships. What's left? Oh yeah, the assists record. This is probably the most ridiculous statement of all. While it's no small feat that Magic broke the assists record (his 10,141 edged out the Big O's 9,887), it's preposterous to suggest that Paul has to accomplish the same feat in order to be considered on Magic's level. This is primarily due to the fact that a man named John Stockton came in and beat out Magic's record by 50%. Magic's total: 10,141. Stockton's: 15,806. So now, CP has to amass almost 16K assists just to be in the discussion.

While I agree that putting Paul on the same level as Magic is a bit premature, I don't think it's even remotely sacrilege to make comparisons. Dave Berri said it best:

Chris Paul in 2008-09 compares favorably to Magic Johnson. And that is a point I would emphasize. Chris Paul is developing into one of the all-time great players in NBA history. It’s not a stretch to start thinking of him in terms of players like Magic, MJ, and Bird. Yes, Paul is that good.

"Developing" is the key word in that sentence. Mr. Adande should just be happy that a point guard as exciting as CP (and possibly the most exciting since Magic) is in the league right now. Not to mention that he gets to watch that player's "development" unfold. He should also try watching more than 2 or 3 Hornets' games a season. It might help.


Ok, so having the best point guard in the league (and arguably ever) is a small consolation if this team can't bring home a championship. These arguments that circulate through the blogosphere are ostensibly meaningless since we really have no way of be 100% certain about something as subjective as how "good" a player is/was, never mind the fact that some of these comparisons are made between players who were stars in totally different eras.

In the end, these discussions are just a way of biding our time until our respective teams take home a championship. We don't like to admit it, but it's the truth all the same.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Highlight of the Season

Ladies and gentlemen, this is air traffic control. We regret to inform you that while the JET may in fact be on the runway, he has been grounded due to the awesomeness that is Chris Paul. Thank you for your understanding.

Roger that. Over and out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Orleans Hornets + Tyson Chandler = Good.

Who knew?

Some very flattering articles about Tyson's return have been published today.

JA Adande at offers his take.

And John Schuhmann of gives an analysis.

Consensus? This 5-0 record over the five games Tyson has played is no coincidence.

Why stop at five? The Mavs come to town on Thursday. Let's keep it going.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wake Up, Mr. West

You've just been named Player of the Week.

Congratulations to D-West, who was just named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from February 23 to March 1. Over that stretch, West has put up great numbers in four games. Per game, he's averaging 28.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1 steal. Certainly not by coincidence, the Hornets are on a four-game win streak.

Big ups to David and the Hornets. Now, let's keep it rolling in Philly.