It’s been quite an eventful preseason for the pair of Chris Paul and Derrick Rose.
In regards to Paul, the 28 year old point guard has led the Los Angeles Clippers to a 5-2 record and is looking as explosive as ever, never more evident than the 40 point, 11 assist and seven rebound near triple double he devastated the Denver Nuggets with in the Clippers’ 118-111 victory a little less than a week ago. With consistent concerns now sprouting year to year about the health of Paul’s knees, it almost seemed like he wanted to come out early and tell the league he meant business this season, even if he’s considering potentially hanging up the sneakers and retiring early to spend more time with his children in the not too distant future.
This past offseason, the Clippers went out and finally addressed the need of consistent perimeter shooting that had plagued the team and its floor spacing these past few seasons. Although Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Caron Butler were more than capable three point shooters, they weren’t specialists at the craft. In Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick, the Clippers get two players that have each hit over 40 percent of their three point attempts over the course of their respective NBA careers. With the duo along with Antawn Jamison, the candidacy of Paul becomes clear as the Clippers become a team destined to battle for the top spot in the Western Conference and will look to Paul to lead them to that goal.
As for Rose, what can you really say that already hasn’t been said by ESPN highlights at this point in October. If you don’t believe me, just ask Reggie Jackson of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who was halfway to picking up his unemployment check at the local social welfare office before half of the crowd and his teammates reminded him that getting thoroughly embarrassed on the floor doesn’t mean you get fired. More importantly, the lone flaw in his game, the long range jump shot, has looked absolutely fantastic thus far and might be the most significant development in the NBA since LeBron James trained with Hakeem Olajuwon to develop his now seemingly unstoppable mid-range and post game.
If the jump shot displayed thus far along with a healthy pair of legs and a mind free of doubt are what we have to look forward to this season from Rose, we might just be in store for one of the greatest seasons ever by a point guard. If the jumper stays consistent, it isn’t unthinkable to imagine a season where Rose averages the 25 points , 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds he established as the norm during his 2010-11 MVP campaign, but doing so in the 50/40/80 fashion which will just be too hard to ignore on a Chicago Bulls team that will challenge 60 wins this season.
Since his arrival to the Miami Heat, there arguably hasn’t been a more dominating stretch of years put forth by a player in league history and that’s including Michael Jordan‘s run in the 1990s. The raw numbers, 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists, are something we’ve come to expect from James like a successful Eminem track or the occasional Canada joke on “How I Met Your Mother”. That said, we aren’t used to seeing a perimeter player shoot 56.5 percent from the field and 40.6 from three. Unfortunately, the consistent greatness is something that we’ve been spoiled with for years and as with anything familiar, we’re craving to see something new.
Unless Kevin Durant can carry the Thunder to success without the presence of Russell Westbrook on the floor, the 2013-14 NBA MVP race becomes a two horse race. In Rose and Paul, we have two players that have all the elements necessary to strip The King of his MVP crown.
I believe that this is the season that voter fatigue, something that cost Jordan an MVP to the delight of Karl Malone, finally catches up to James who has finally set the bar on the high jump at a height he just can’t clear. Whether it’s Paul carrying the Clippers to the top spot in the Western Conference while averaging a double-double for the first time since his departure from New Orleans or the story of Rose along with his and the Bulls’ performance overwhelm our collective basketball conscience, you can be sure one of the two is destined to appear at that trophy presentation in May.