LOS ANGELES – Welcome Chris Paul to another exclusive club.

With 53.2 left in the first quarter in Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons, the player most often pegged as the NBA’s best point guard tallied the 6,000th assist of his career.

Paul entered the night needing four assists to reach the mark and got all he needed in the first quarter. For No. 6,000, he drove left and kicked the ball back to Blake Griffin for a jumper from straightaway to give the Clippers a 13-point lead early.

He did it in 606 games and with a month left in his ninth NBA season. Paul is the seventh player in NBA history to reach 6,000 assists before the end of his nine seasons, joining an exclusive list that includes Jason Kidd, John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Norm Nixon and Oscar Robertson. Paul, Johnson, Stockton and Thomas are the only players among that group to reach the milestone before their 29th birthday.

It is the second season in a row Paul has reached an historic benchmark. Last year, he recorded his 10,000th point in March, at the time becoming the fourth youngest player all-time to score 10,000 points and reach 5,000 assists. He joined Johnson, Thomas and Stephon Marbury in that exclusive club.

For the sixth time, Paul is on track to top 600 assists in a season. He leads the NBA in assists per game and is the only player averaging more than 10. He’s led the league in his most identifiable stat category two previous seasons and has not averaged fewer than 8.9 assists since he was the 2006 Rookie of the Year.

This season, despite missing 18 games due to a separated shoulder, and playing through a variety of nagging injuries, Paul has helped lead the Clippers (48-21) to the best start in franchise history. They are primed to enter the Playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and have won 14 of the 17 games Paul has played since coming back from the shoulder injury.