Oklahoma City was not suppose to be in the position that they are in as of right now. With Russell Westbrook and Paul George being shipped away the past offseason, many expected that OKC would be in official rebuild mode and would develop their young core throughout the years. But with a veteran leader in Chris Paul guiding a young team teaching them how to win, The Thunder have found themselves in a surprising position heading into the playoffs.
The narrative prior to the season was that Chris Paul would not make much of an impact on this Thunder squad. After being traded to OKC this past offseason, it was rumored that CP would eventually want out and would consider playing for a championship contender instead. But luckily, staying in OKC has given Paul a new leaf and he’s had a chance to prove to the world that he is still the great point guard that we know him to be.
After a slow start to the season, Chris Paul and the Thunder have been on a roll. Through the first 20 games the team started out 8-12. But since December 6, the team has went 32-12 the rest of the way and are currently the 5th seed in the West looking to climb higher in the rankings.
Paul has had his redemption season averaging 17.7 points per game while dishing out 6.8 assists as well. He has been the X-Factor that OKC didn’t expect him to be. He’s been huge for the team down the stretch and has closed out many games for the team being the #1 leader in clutch points with 144.
The world know how legendary of a Point Guard Paul has been through the course of his career. But the narrative that has surrounded him through so many years was him as a leader of an organization. After disputes with Blake Griffin, James Harden, etc., Paul was always known as problematic in the locker room and players didn’t enjoy playing alongside him.
But this season has been the complete opposite for Paul. Even with his fantastic individual numbers, he has been a vocal leader and has helped guide the young players in Shaq Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroeder, Terrance Ferguson, and others. While many expected for Paul to want out once he got traded to OKC, he has embraced the veteran leadership and continues to guide the young players to success.
With Paul’s exceptional play this season, he is well deserved of being an MVP candidate. Why? Well who thought OKC would be this good at this point in the season. The team looked a mess after last season losing in the first round of the playoffs having no idea what direction they should go in. But after acquiring Paul via trade, that narrative may be different for this season in the postseason. It’s safe to say that Paul has brought life back to the city after a long offseason and he has made the most of his situation this year.
Whether it’s having clutch moments against Dallas on December 31 or him making big plays for his teammates, Paul’s contributions has elevated the play of the Thunder and he has taken his game to a much different level this season. He has became such a fan favorite in the NBA again and his play got him his first All-Star spot in over 3 seasons.
With Paul being the X-Factor this season, the question now will be how far can he take this team in the postseason. With playing in a tough Western Conference, any team they face up against will be a battle tester for the young Thunder. With Paul’s veteran experience, he can be a huge factor in this Thunder team getting far in the playoffs. The young core goes through him throughout the game so if Paul is engaged on the floor, that means the rest of the team will be engaged as well.
The talks this season have revolves around Giannis and LeBron for the MVP Award. But it is no question that Chris Paul’s name should be in the mix as well. Will he wind up winning the award? More likely not. But Paul’s name deserves to be in the MVP conversation due to his exceptional play and bringing this young OKC squad to playoff contention. The world cannot wait to see what Chris Paul and the Thunder can do come playoff time.