There was a time when many doubted the lasting usefulness of a player like Chris Paul, a cerebral point guard barely standing over six feet and now well into his thirties. It has become clear that such concerns were borderline sacrilege.
On Sunday night Paul became only the sixth player in NBA history to record 10,000 assists – a staggering combination of otherworldly talent, longevity and consistency whichever way you look at it.
He joins John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson as the only players to ever cross the mark. Perhaps even more impressive is that he will pass Johnson by the time the season is done. Averaging almost nine per game this season, he might even catch Jackson and Nash during the playoffs.
The ‘Point God’ is showing no signs of slowing down.
Most career assists in NBA history
How else but achieve the feat by throwing a picture-perfect lob to a young franchise center?
Of all the ways for Paul to reach the milestone, it was by far the most fitting given the resounding theme of his career has been his ability to feed whichever big men he was playing alongside easy baskets, almost granting them stardom by osmosis.
DeAndre Ayton is only the latest. Paul helped David West average 20 points per game for the New Orleans Hornets, which immediately dropped to 13 after the point guard was moved to the Los Angeles Clippers.
And who could forget the Lob City team that controversial trade gave us, one of the most exciting in recent basketball history as Paul threw oops to DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin for fun from all over the court?
They remain one of the great ‘What if?’ cases, a rampant regular season franchise that could never quite get over the hump in the playoffs, in part due to some rotten injury luck.
Chris Paul’s Top 10 Career Assist Connections
Despite never winning a championship, Paul remains a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer after 11 All-Star appearances, four All-NBA First Team selections and four Second Team, as well as seven NBA All-Defensive First Team awards, with two for the Second Team.
He has also led the league in assists four times, steals six times and was awarded Rookie of the Year all the way back in 2006, along with winning two gold medals for Team USA.
Chris Paul career assists, by team
|New Orleans Hornets (05-11)||4,228|
|Los Angeles Clippers (11-17)||4,023|
|Houston Rockets (17-19)||930|
|Oklahoma City Thunder (19-20)||472|
The fact that he continues to drastically improve whichever team he plays on is testament to his enduring quality as a basketball player: an on-court intelligence matched only by LeBron James.
Whatever deficiencies in size and speed he may now have, Paul more than makes up for it with his razor-sharp mental dexterity. He still conducts an offense as well as anyone ever has in this league, as demonstrated by his career-high 19 dimes against the New Orleans Pelicans only a few weeks ago.
It seems there is more to come from this legendary floor general. Paul has led the Phoenix Suns to second in a stacked Western Conference, and with Devin Booker and Ayton alongside him, you never know. That first ring may not prove so elusive after all – just ask Jason Kidd.