Los Angeles Clippers: MVP will solidify Paul’s All-Time Greatness

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 27: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers directs his teammates against the Boston Celtics on December 27, 2012 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

“It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person”

Bill Murray authored that tweet in May of 2015 and while he probably wasn’t on NBA Twitter arguing the merits of Chris Paul being an all-time great NBA point guard, it’s absolutely appropriate and worth remembering when “but CP3 hasn’t won any rings” pops up into your Twitter mentions.

CP3 is one of the most well rounded players to set foot on the court. He does a bit of everything and does everything well. Passing, shooting, defending and leading – all maximized due to his brilliant basketball IQ.

His 18.8 points and 9.9 assist per game over the course of his career are undoubtedly great numbers, but there’s still a breed of NBA fan out there that looks at the big donut next to ‘Championships’ to define his career.

Paul himself is the first to admit that falling short of a ring, only making it as far as the conference semi finals (3), is a heartbreaking and unforgettable experience, telling the LA Times he cried after a 2014 Game 5 loss to the Thunder but wanted to hold onto the memory; “It’s one of those things that I don’t want to forget, to tell you the truth. I think for me, I feel like you have to remember things like that and therefore you don’t want that feeling again. I know I don’t.”

With a reignited motivation behind him every season he fails to make even the Conference Finals let alone a Championship, Paul always looks to improve himself to ultimately improve the team as a whole, claiming “I’m self-motivated…It doesn’t matter how successful my season was or wasn’t, I’m always going to strive to be better and push myself.”

Unfortunately for Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers, motivation and striving to be better can only get you so far in the NBA today. He’s had some bad luck, some untimely injuries and some unexpected opposition fightbacks, but his biggest problem when it comes to getting a ring has been timing.

The Clippers have been up against some of the great NBA teams since he joined the franchise in 2011: The ‘Big 3’ of the Miami Heat. The ageless San Antonio Spurs. The game changing Golden State Warriors. And of course, LeBron’s second appearance with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With ‘Super Teams’ like the Cavaliers and Warriors again dominating preseason championship predictions, the timing looks to be getting worse for Paul as a Larry O’Brien trophy is quickly slipping out of his reach.

Despite that, there is one trophy Paul could get his hands on to indisputably secure his career among the all-time greats of the game.

Apr 24, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) reacts after Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) missed a three-point shot as time expires in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Golden State Warriors 98-96. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 24, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) reacts after Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) missed a three-point shot as time expires in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Golden State Warriors 98-96. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 Maurice Podoloff NBA’s Most Valuable Player trophy.

A number of aspects come into play when making this arguably bold prediction, but ultimately, wins come first and votes from the assigned media members second.

Despite injuries to Blake Griffin and Paul derailing recent seasons at inopportune times, the Clips have still managed .600 basketball each year since 2011-12. They look yet again set to break the 50 win barrier and could even approach 60 if Paul and Griffin remain somewhat healthy throughout the season.

Adithya Pugazhendhi of ClipsNation argued that the Clippers are seemingly being swept under the Warriors Super Team themed rug saying “the Clippers are still a really good team, people forget this. When healthy last year they were in the discussion with the other contenders in the West.”

The Clippers, minus something of catastrophic proportions, are going to be on the fringe of contention at the least. The continuity and chemistry of a team that’s seen their core develop into one of the best 1-6 lineups in the league should see the Clippers and in turn, Chris Paul, get the W’s required for MVP consideration.

Wins are what MVP voters look at first and last season, the Golden State Warriors had a record breaking 73 of them, which believe it or not, may rule out the reigning and NBA first unanimous winner of the award, Steph Curry.

There comes a time in sport when a team or player becomes too successful and fatigue sets in.

People get tired of seeing the same teams winning, and worse, the same fans celebrating.

Just nine years ago as the eighth seed in the West, the Warriors upset the number one seed Dallas Mavericks 4-2 in the first round of the 2006-07 playoffs, becoming a Cinderella story in the process.

Everyone outside of Dallas were Warriors fans for a week.

Fast forward to 2016 via an NBA Championship and record breaking regular season, and there’s not a team NBA players and fans want to see lose more than the Warriors.

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The same issue in the form of voter fatigue is likely to hinder media members when making their selection for the upcoming seasons MVP, punishing Curry – Paul’s biggest competition – in the process.

With nobody winning three consecutive NBA MVP awards since Larry Bird in 1986 and Curry seemingly unlikely to break that streak, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James become Paul’s immediate MVP rivals.

All three have a case against them.

Durant is an MVP caliber player and former winner of the award, playing with the game’s only ever unanimous winner in Curry. That factor alone will hinder Durant’s chances with some voters who see it as a reason to diminish what may still be a great season. While it’s a strange path for a voter to take, it’s understandable given the quality surrounding him every night.

Debates have already begun surrounding who the best player is in this Warriors squad. If Durant can’t even put beyond doubt that it’s him, winning the MVP award is out of the question.

Leonard is already a Finals MVP winner and may be the most underrated of the obvious choices. The Spurs are always great therefore wins will have him in the conversation, but on a team so unselfish and Leonard being Mr. Unselfish himself, the numbers he produces mightn’t be a fair reflection on the impact he has on a game.

With the votes spread across 121 different media members, it’s unlikely they all see even a quarter of the 82 games Leonard would hope to play in and in turn, making a vote based on potentially misleading and underwhelming box scores and analytics.

Then comes the ever brilliant LeBron.

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Going into a season where he will turn 32 years old and on the back of six straight NBA Finals, fatigue of not only a physical, but also mental nature, is bound to set it.

James and the Miami Heat were accused of ‘coasting’ during the 2013-14 season. While it was only an accusation vehemently denied back then, an aging James might embrace the idea as a guy that’s played 16,370 the last six seasons.

As great as James is, even a coasting version isn’t enough to secure an MVP award in a league currently boasting some of the best and most exciting players the games has ever seen.

Now consider Chris Paul.

Paul is coming off a Chris Paul-like as ever 19.5 points 10.0 assists a game season and showing no signs of slowing down. The consistency behind last season’s numbers suggest he’s far from being on a decline averaging 19.1 points and 10.2 assist in 2014-15 and 19.1 points and 10.7 assists in 2013-14.

With nothing other than a 1985 birth year to suggest we won’t see what most consider an all-time great player continue to produce all-time great numbers, an MVP award is on the horizon to make that all-time status undoubtedly so.

While we should all take Bill Murray’s advice when engaging in this discussion, adding an MVP award to the argument goes close to conquering stupid and achieving the near impossible.

Timing is finally on his side.

A number of other contenders for the award have other things besides their own individual performance to overcome.

The Clippers are going to get the wins.

He’s going to put up the numbers.

Chris Paul is going to win the 2016-17 NBA MVP, and with it, a permanent place in the discussion of NBA all-time greats.

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