NBA Trade Rumors: Chris Paul should be a top trade target at the deadline

OKC Thunder guard Chris Paul (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder guard Chris Paul (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

NBA Trade Rumors: As the trade deadline quickly approaches, Chris Paul should emerge as a top trade target for any contender

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there is no belief that a Chris Paul trade will come to fruition before the NBA Trade Deadline. However, one can argue that Chris Paul should be a top trade target at the deadline because he has shown the ability to thrive on and off the ball within an offensive system.

For instance, Paul was predominantly a pick-and-roll ball-handler during his last two seasons with the LA Clippers as he averaged 8.8 per game. He was able to generate 8.35 points per game from the 8.8 pick and roll possessions. The 8.35 points accounted for 44.2 percent of his total scoring output as he averaged 18.9 points per game in his final two seasons as a Clipper.

After the 2016-17 season, Chris Paul decided to join the Houston Rockets because he believed a partnership with James Harden gave him the best opportunity to win a championship. The move forced Paul to make drastic changes to his game as the team was running an isolation heavy offensive system.

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The Rockets were 4th in the league in isolation possessions during the 2016-17 season as they averaged 10.6 per game. As a consequence, Paul ran 6.15 pick and rolls per game in two seasons with the Rockets.

He was able to generate 5.8 points per game from the 6.15 pick-and-roll possessions. The 5.8 points accounted for 33.9 percent of his total scoring output as he averaged 17.1 points per game in his two seasons as a Rocket.

Some of the remaining pick-and-roll possessions were replaced by isolations as he averaged 4.9 per game in two seasons with the Rockets. This was a 60.2 percent increase from his final two seasons as a Clipper. He was able to generate 4.95 points per game from the 4.9 isolation possessions.

This was a 60.6 percent increase from his final two seasons as a Clipper. The 4.95 points accounted for 28.9 percent of his total scoring output. When he didn’t have the ball in his hands, Chris Paul played the role of a 3-point shooter as he averaged 6.3 3-point attempts per game with the Rockets.

The 6.3 3-point attempts were a 74.6 percent increase from his previous two seasons with the Clippers. Paul converted 36.9 percent of those attempts in two seasons with Houston. This was a 2.1 percent decrease from his last two seasons as a Clipper.

Paul’s offensive versatility makes him the perfect fit for teams like the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. These teams appear to be in need of another guard as insiders have linked them to Jrue Holiday in the past two weeks. Unfortunately, these teams need a guard who can thrive off the ball.

For Instance, Denver is running an offensive system that features a significant amount of dribble handoffs as they currently rank second in the category averaging 8.9 per game. A dribble handoff in Mike Malone‘s system requires a player to walk the basketball up to the 3-point line.

Once this happens, the player will get to a teammate on the perimeter to initiate the handoff. If the dribble handoff was successful, the player stood in place, giving the teammate a chance to use his body as a screen. Assuming that the teammate used his body as a screener, the player would start to roll towards the basket.

On the other hand, if the handoff failed, the player would hold the basketball until a teammate cuts to the basket, or he attempted a mid-range jumper.

A prime example of this was found midway through the second quarter of a home game against the Charlotte Hornets when Nikola Jokic dribbled the ball to the left-wing to initiate a handoff with Gary Harris. In the process of completing the dribble handoff, Gary’s defender Miles Bridges bumped into Jokic, giving Harris an uncontested 3, which he converted.

Nuggets guards Gary Harris and Jamal Murray have been splitting time as the perimeter player in a dribble handoff as they are currently averaging 3.0 and 2.8 possessions per game, respectively. As a consequence, if the Nuggets want to acquire a guard, he must be a threat from behind the arc because guards are going to spend a significant amount of time off the ball in Mike Malone’s system.

A multi-faceted guard would also make him a good fit for the Heat as he will be playing alongside a player in Jimmy Butler, who is insistent on being the primary ball-handler of an offense.

According to USA Today, Jimmy believed that his desire to be the primary ball-handler played a factor in his departure from the Chicago Bulls as former head coach Fred Hoiberg wanted to run a ball movement offense. Butler wanted Fred to design a system where he was allowed to distribute the ball and iso in the pick-and-roll.

Chicago wasn’t the only stop where his desire to be the primary ball-handler caused an issue as the Philadelphia 76ers encountered the same problem. According to ESPN, Jimmy had a meeting with head coach Brett Brown two months after being acquired to talk about the lack of pick-and-roll in the offense.

Lastly, a guard would be asked to take on a similar responsibility in Milwaukee as guards play the role of a floor spacer for the ball handler, Giannis Antetokounmpo. A prime example of this can be found midway through the first quarter of a home game against the Indiana Pacers.

Giannis had the basketball on the left block and noticed that Aaron Holiday left Wesley Matthews uncovered on the right-wing. Consequently, he passed the basketball to Wesley for the open 3, which he made.

Therefore, Chris Paul is a much better fit for these teams than Jrue Holiday as his presence increases the likelihood of a team maintaining floor spacing. This is because defenders are hesitant to leave him open as they’re aware that he can make a 3-pointer consistently.

Chris Paul shot 38 percent from behind the arc in the four seasons before 2019-20. This is 4.2 percent better than Jrue Holiday’s 3-point percentage during that time. Consequently, defenders stayed closer to Paul when he was off the ball as 84.2 percent of his three’s were uncontested. This was 9.1 percent better than Jrue Holiday during that time.

Not only that but Chris is still capable of being the primary ball handler when a costar is resting as he is currently averaging 8.3 points on 7.5 pick and roll possessions. The 8.3 points account for 50 percent of his total scoring output as he is averaging 16.3 points per game.

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Paul’s pick-and-roll success has helped the Oklahoma City Thunder outscore opponents by 5.9 points per game when he is on the court. In conclusion, Chris Paul’s versatility makes him an ideal basketball fit for any team looking to acquire a guard at the deadline.