How Chris Paul could help diversify the Golden State Warriors’ offense
Oct 12, 2023, 3:31 PM | Updated: 4:07 pm
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
During the offseason, the Golden State Warriors acquired 38-year-old, 12-time All-Star Chris Paul. In exchange, they sent Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins, a 2030 first-round pick (top 20 protected), and a second-round pick in 2027 to the Washington Wizards.
Paul’s fit alongside Stephen Curry and the rest of Golden State’s roster is often questioned. Yet, there’s plenty of reason to believe that he and the coaching staff will find an appropriate middle ground.
The most obvious positive about bringing in the five-time assist leader is his ability to manage the minutes when Curry rests. Last season, the Warriors’ offensive and defensive rating took a significant hit when the widely regarded best shooter of all time took a seat. They went from a +5.8 net rating with Curry on the floor to a -2.3 net rating with him off, second worst to Draymond Green.
While Poole is an exceptional scorer, he was not a game manager. Even at this point in his career, Paul is one of the best in the game at setting up his teammates and finding ways to run an efficient half-court offense. Imagine him finding Klay Thompson coming off of screens, playing in the pick-and-roll with Green or Kevon Looney, and making the game easier for Jonathan Kuminga.
“Chris Paul will completely unlock Jonathan Kuminga and his growth. CP is great with young guys. Deandre Ayton looked like a bust before CP came to Phoenix. No disrespect to Ayton.”
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 3, 2023
As for the conversation about Chris Paul playing alongside Curry, he’s successfully adjusted to playing alongside other ball-handlers at previous points in his career. Paul has played alongside James Harden, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant. He’s consistently ranked below their usage rate and had minimal issues playing off the ball. An exceptional 52.3 percent of his 88 catch-and-shoot triples were converted last season.
Meanwhile, Curry has spent time with Green, Durant, Poole, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut while still getting sufficient touches and shots. Not to mention, Paul is regarded as one of the smartest players of his generation. He’s a player you bet on figuring it out, even at 38.
Yes, the Warriors play a high-paced offense and Paul typically excels in the half-court, but not exclusively. When the Phoenix Suns went to the Western Conference Finals in 2020-21, they ranked ninth in pace (99.8). Golden State’s league-leading pace (101.6) last season could end up slowing down a bit to account for Paul’s strengths, but they will need to meet in the middle.
Here’s Steve Kerr discussing how the Warriors split up point guard duties when Chris Paul, Steph Curry and Draymond Green are all on the floor. He called it a key thing to “observe and help develop.” He said Paul has noted he needs to run the wing when Draymond pushes. pic.twitter.com/1XzBDQkdFJ
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 5, 2023
Chris Paul must find how he fits with the Warriors, but head coach Steve Kerr and the rest of the coaching staff must put him in positions to succeed. It’s a two-way street en route to success.
And, of course, there’s the question of who starts. Paul has never come off the bench in his 1,214 career games, but closing lineups are the more pressing uncertainty. Looney has often embraced changes to his role; moving him to the bench is the simplest solution if that’s a point of contention.
But one of the few things Chris Paul hasn’t accomplished in his impressive career is winning an NBA championship. If all sides’ main priority is taking home the Larry O’Brien trophy, they should be able to find a healthy middle ground.
If egos interfere, complications could arise. But, if not, the Warriors could have significant flexibility with their lineups after adding the future Hall of Famer.