Last night, Chris Paul and The Clippers were victorious over the Miami Heat and perennial MVP-frontrunner Lebron James, 107-100. CP3 had 16 points, 10 assists, 4 steals, and a rebound. Lebron had 30 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal. Given that these are more or less both players’ usual statistics, it would seem that James is clearly the choice for MVP over Chris. After all, his stat line night after night is something that has never been seen in this generation of professional basketball. It is impossible to say that there is a better ballplayer alive. However, he is not the Most Valuable Player in the NBA. Chris Paul, more than any other player in the Association, has proven that value comes from more than simply what happens on the court.
Chris Paul is widely regarded as the finest leader in basketball. When asked the name of his offense, Clippers coach Vinnie Del Negro replied “the Chris Paul.” During games, Chris visibly keeps his group focused, occasionally smacking a teammate caught drifting during a timeout. During practice, slackers not only have to answer to their coach, but their star player. Even on off days, Chris openly invites his squad over for NFL Sundays and other bonding activities. All of this shows on the court. This Clipper team, so far, is easily the most cohesive team in the NBA. A large part of their current success is directly related to the strength of the bond between players – and this is all a result of Chris Paul. Of course, Chris could not be the leader that he is if his game did not match his uncanny ability to lead. Fortunately, it does. ESPN recently named him the third best player in the NBA. Well, he is the first most valuable.
There are no statistics that could show the effect that Chris Paul is having on the Clippers this season. Well, scratch that – there is one. And it’s the only one that matters. Wins and losses. If the Clippers continue to play at the level that they are playing right now – a tall order, no doubt – CP3 should be a frontrunner for NBA MVP in 2012-2013, regardless of his stats or anybody else’s.