Fantasy Basketball 2013: Doc Rivers Will Help Chris Paul
“The first meeting I had with Doc, he pretty much told me I wasn’t anything. He told me I hadn’t done anything in this league, and he was right.”
Those were the words of All Star point guard Chris Paul regarding new head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers, trying to motivate Paul, while being brutally honest, stated that he hadn’t done a thing in the NBA. The two will try to change that this year by winning a title, but championship or not, Paul will surely do something in fantasy basketball leagues this year.
He’s already a consensus top-five overall fantasy pick, and in my eyes, is the best point guard in all of basketball. But could Chris Paul be even better in 2013? It certainly wouldn’t be smart to bet against it. With Rivers calling the shots, Paul should be much more efficient himself, but the entire Clippers team will be a much smoother offense, which will translate to fantasy success for Paul owners. The difference between Rivers and former head coach Vinny Del Negro is monumental. Whether it’s basketball I.Q., leadership, whatever. Rivers is clearly the better basketball mind and coach. Last season under Del Negro, Paul actually posted the lowest minutes per game of his entire career (33.4). Rivers, meanwhile, has already stated that he won’t limit Paul’s minutes, and if that’s the case, we should see a strong uptick in volume for Paul this year. Heck, Doc even stated that the way he will rest Paul is to blow out the opposition. Doc, a former point guard in his own right, tends to bring the best out of those who play the position. We all know how dominant Rajon Rondo was when he emerged under Rivers in Boston, but let’s take a trip down memory lane to see how fantasy relevant Rondo truly was. Thanks to Chris Towers for crunching up the numbers.
Rondo’s numbers under Doc
It’s important to note that both Rondo and Paul share pretty similar play styles. Pass-first point guards with elite steal potential. While Rondo is clearly an elite point guard, the presence of Rivers in Boston had to have played a factor in his emergence, and even a top-notch guy like Paul can take another step forward under Doc this season. And considering CP3 will play as much as he possibly can, his upside may be even higher in 2013. Paul’s 2012 numbers were good enough for sixth overall on ESPN’s Player Rater, and under Rivers, he could exceed his 2012 stats. Los Angeles’ new and improved offense as a whole could very well be the reason why.
Last season, the Clippers offense was pretty explosive. They ranked third in effective field goal percentage (52.4%), ninth in points per game (100.6) and third in field goal percentage (47.7%). However, you guessed it, the presence of Doc can make this offense far more efficient, far more consistent. There may not be as many of those flashy, alley-oop plays that Clipper fans have grown accustomed to seeing, but who cares? The offensive overhaul should bode well for the fantasy prospects of the veteran point guard this season. It’s revamped to become more effective. Coach Nick of bballbreakdown.com does a phenomenal job dissecting the differences in offense between last year’s Clippers and 2013′s version under Rivers.
Nick breaks down how in 2012, Paul would often run the offense (as he normally would), but the rest of the Clippers offense would hardly move without the ball, often watching Paul dribble around. It slowed the game down dramatically, and resulted in some ugly possessions.
Fast forward to some preseason action, and the Clippers are moving much better without the ball. Doc is drawing up various off-ball screens to get his knockdown shooters open in space. The Clippers have already brought in three-point guys like J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley, so Paul should have another terrific opportunity to lead the league in assists. In the below shot, Jamal Crawford gets multiple screens as he goes backdoor to the corner, Paul makes the easy pass and Crawford gets an open look for the shot. If a deadly shooter like Crawford can continue to get looks like this, Paul’s job as the point guard becomes that much easier.
The revamped offense will make an effort to get big man Blake Griffin in the paint more, rather than settling for one of the least effective shots in all of basketball, the long two. If Paul can continuously find one of the more freakish athletes in all of basketball where he can dominant, Paul’s assists numbers will again be very fantasy friendly.
Look, Chris Paul is already the best point guard in the game, and from a fantasy perspective, his status remains the same. But after watching this outstanding breakdown from Coach Nick, as well as breaking down some numbers, I’m sold that the presence of Doc Rivers will only allow CP3 to become even more of a fantasy superstar. His job will become much easier in the offense, and you won’t see him dribbling around for half of the shot clock.
Draft him accordingly.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.