FRIDAY FIVE: BEST CHRIS PAUL ASSISTS THROUGH NOV. 7
Through six games Chris Paul leads the league in total assists (75) and assists per game (12.5). It’s really nothing new. He’s the most spectacular assister in the NBA. He seemingly always makes the right pass or right decision. At this point in the season, most people like to grapple with the word “sample size” as though the six games and 75 assists is too small to choose the best of the bunch. Fortunately, Paul has afforded plenty of opportunities for one of the league’s highest scoring offenses. Here are the best five assists by Paul in the opening two weeks of 2013-14:
5. Oct. 29, 2013 at Lakers: Pick-and-roll perfection. Paul has been the pick-and-roll ball-handler on 62 possessions this season, netting 50 points for the offense. A majority of those situations lead to a basket for Blake Griffin, who catches a pocket pass from Paul here and goes up for an easy dunk against the Lakers on opening night.
4. Oct. 31, 2013 vs. Warriors: Half-court dare. While Paul led the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio last season and often says the only stat he cares about is keeping a low number of turnovers, he is also unafraid to take chances. Here Paul gets a steal and finds Griffin streaking down the center of the court. Of course, the dunk and athleticism to finish after an over the shoulder catch standout most, but it’s Paul’s willingness to throw the nearly 40-foot pass that made it happen.
3. Nov. 1, 2013 at Kings: Late lob to Jordan. Late in the game Paul draws so much attention as a scorer that he can almost find open teammates too easily. Here he looked like he was going to push the ball hard to his right for a typically deadly baseline fadeaway with four minutes to go, but he spots DeAndre Jordan at the last moment and throws a lob on the opposite side of the rim, while in the air for his jumper.
2. Nov. 6, 2013 at Magic: Redick baseline cutter. The chemistry between Paul and J.J. Redick in the early going has been uncanny. Paul assisted on 15 of the first 23 field goals Redick made this season… So much for the two admittedly disliking each other in college. In Orlando, Paul finds Redick cutting along the right baseline with beautiful bounce pass that winds up with Redick getting an open layup. That will probably happen a few dozen more times as the season progresses.
1. Nov. 4, 2013 vs. Houston: Zip one in. Late in their blowout win against the Rockets, Paul and Griffin run a pick-and-roll in the same spot on the floor where Griffin has thrown down two of his most iconic dunks. It looks like he has a chance at another one and Paul looks to make the pass to the rolling Griffin to his left. But the look towards Griffin was merely a decoy and Paul hums a one-handed pass to Jordan for a dunk.