“It’s one of those things where you have a guy who just understands how to play basketball,” Curry said on the Gil’s Arena podcast. “[Paul] has elevated teams that he’s been on his entire career and even at this stage like what he did in Phoenix when he’s been there. I know they didn’t accomplish the goal [of winning a championship], but they were better because of his leadership and ability to manage the flow of games.”
Paul’s impact on the Suns was immediately felt when they led them to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993, and after a 10-year playoff drought, on his first season with the franchise. Since then, the Suns have been a perennial Western Conference semifinalist.
Before that, Paul led a rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder team to the playoffs after trading away their then-franchise cornerstone, Russell Westbrook.
The 12-time All-Star point guard has a track record of leading young teams to the playoffs since his early years in New Orleans. So, Paul’s arrival in Golden State at a time when the Warriors are trying to extend their championship window with their dynasty core and a young bench is very much welcomed.
“There’s a lot of excitement for us like we want to talk about strict X and O’s,” Curry said. “He connects a lot of lineups for us in terms of being able to help some of the young guys figure out what it means to play winning basketball and be in the right spots. He’s obviously a great leader in terms of his communication, like he’s going to get on you. He’s going to over-communicate and we need that.”
Chris Paul’s Impact Already Felt
Curry revealed he’d already seen glimpses of Paul’s impact on their young guys, such as Jonathan Kuminga, who is expected to step into a larger role after Jordan Poole’s departure, in pickup games this summer.
“I’ve already seen him helping JK (Kuminga) how to help run the pick and roll, where to be, giving him confidence in those types of scenarios, so that’ll help us in terms of trying to be more cohesive when I’m on the floor, when I’m off [the floor] and Klay [Thompson] being able to run off the ball if [Paul] is running the point.”
Will Chris Paul Start?
Curry, the incumbent starting point guard for the Warriors, acknowledged the elephant in the room.
“We obviously have a lot of questions to answer in terms of who’s starting, who’s finishing and that’ll play itself out,” Curry said. “But at the end of the day, we all, I think, are motivated to win. I’m sure nobody more than [Paul] and for us to know exactly where we feel like we belong as a team.”
The preseason chatter already revolves around that.
Paul has started in all 1,263 games, including playoffs, throughout his first 18 NBA seasons. Kerr deferred answering where Paul will start or come off the bench until the training camp.
ESPN has already pegged Paul to be the favorite to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year next season.
“So, there’s a lot going for us in that respect to try to put all our energy towards that,” Curry said. “There’s going to be a lot of narrative and conversation again around sacrifice and what that looks like when it comes to — there’s only five guys on the court in the town, but I think we can all figure that out.”
It’s a challenge that Curry and the Warriors welcome as they go for their fifth NBA title in eight years.