Chris Paul averaged 17.6 points, 5 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.6 steals in the regular season for an Oklahoma City Thunder team that exceeded expectations this season.
Under head coach, Billy Donovan, CP3 helped guide the Thunder to a 44-28 record and fifth place finish in the NBA’s Western Conference standings.
Just how special is the Wake Forest product?
“I told people before the year started, if Chris Paul stays in Oklahoma City, they’ll make the playoffs,” Paul’s former teammate, Antonio Daniels told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“Because I was blessed to play with CP in New Orleans and I tell people constantly, ‘He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen.’ And he had an opportunity to go to Oklahoma City this year and completely recreate his image. Think about what was ‘perceived’ about Chris Paul… because remember in Lob City, it was DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin and you know, well they don’t get along well with Chris Paul. Then you go to Houston; and then it’s aw well, him and James Harden you know, their relationship is not salvageable… so now, people start looking on the outside and are like, ‘Man. The common denominator is Chris Paul.'”
A retired 13-year NBA vet, Antonio Daniels, 45, was the Vancouver Grizzlies’ fourth overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft out of Bowling Green. During his career, Daniels has also had stops with the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Sonics, Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers.
Daniels won an NBA Championship with the Spurs in 1999. He’s currently a New Orleans Pelicans color commentator and Sirius XM NBA Radio host,
“When I played with CP in New Orleans, the thing I loved about him is – and this is what leadership is,” Daniels told Heavy Live With Scoop B.
“He holds you accountable. When you don’t do what you’re supposed to do and you’re not where you’re supposed to be, he’ll tell you about that and a lot of times guys don’t accept that very well. What happened, what you saw in Oklahoma City was a situation where him and Billy Donovan worked together. This was the first time – because I was with Oklahoma City previously the first 4 years prior to coming to New Orleans this year. This was the first time in Billy Donovan’s 4-year tenure that he’s had an opportunity to coach. And what I mean by that is every year, one of his top players is a free agent. Kevin Durant was a free agent and then Paul George was a free agent and then Russell Westbrook was a free agent. You know what it’s like to coach stars during their free agent year?… what you have to do, how you have to cater to those guys? So now, you have Chris Paul coming in who’s already established and his contract is taken care of; you have Steven Adams who’s there, his contract is established he’s already taken care of; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – and the thing we know about Billy Donovan is he knows how to connect with young players. You’re not a back-to-back NCAA Champion by accident. So him and Chris Paul were on the same level and what you saw is the benefits of that; of them getting and accomplishing a lot more than a lot of people thought they would.”