No, Chris Paul is not the NBA’s MVP.
Before I tell you why, I want to make it so clear that not even a twitter troll with the attention span of a fly and the reading comprehension of a toddler can get confused: None of this is a negative about any part of Chris Paul’s Suns tenure.
Chris Paul has been a complete and total revelation and there have been no drawbacks to his time spent in Phoenix. There is no critique of him or fine tooth combing his game to split hairs in the argument against him winning the MVP. Hell, he even feels underpaid which was the biggest knock on him when the trade was made. Chris Paul has been perfect for the Suns.
None of that changes the fact that CP3 is not the league’s Most Valuable Player award winner.
First, let’s start with the boring: historical precedent.
There’s never been a league MVP with the stats that Chris Paul is currently putting up.. Since 1980, the only NBA player to average less than 20 points per game and win the MVP was Steve Nash, which happened in both of his MVP winning years of 2005 and 2006. In both of those years, Nash averaged more assists per game in than Paul has this season and had better shooting numbers than Paul currently has. Nash was just statistically better than CP3, not by much but by enough to matter for precedent.
Paul does not meet the lowest statistical, positionally relevant threshold for winning the MVP.
Then there’s the fact that Chris Paul hasn’t played like the league MVP and that has nothing to do with the quality of his play while on the court. More specifically, for most of the year Paul has not been asked to take the biggest shots by this Suns team. He’s one of the most clutch players in recent NBA history but has routinely been more of a spectator than hero in the waning seconds of a big Suns game. There has never been a league MVP who is a secondary option on his own team in the vast majority of his team’s big moments.
Paul’s fingerprints are everywhere on this team, just not the final shot of many games.
That’s by design. The Phoenix Suns are intent on letting Devin Booker be the man to finish games, at least until the playoffs arrive. Chris Paul is a collaborator in that plan, not a frustrated bystander.
Chris Paul orchestrated the trade to Phoenix because he saw in Devin Booker what so many of us see in Devin Booker. Could Chris Paul have put up 20 points a night and dished out double digit assists this season and thrust himself into the top of the MVP race? Absolutely.
Paul deserves some hardware for the incredible impact he has had on a Suns team that could be the 1 seed in the West and best team in the NBA by the end of the week.
His impact would be better measured in some sort of Frankenstein’d award combining MVP/Coach of the Year/the NHL’s Lady Byng and the only player to pull off the impossible and turn the Suns around award. But that doesn’t exist yet.
Chris Paul could’ve tried to use his time in Phoenix to selfishly advance his own individual, regular season legacy.
But he saw a greater purpose for this season. He sees a bigger bet on the team’s success over his own. He sacrificed a chance at his own personal MVP gain for the betterment of this young team.
If Chris Paul was willing to make that sacrifice, shouldn’t you?