2010-11 Season In Review: Chris Paul


2010-11 Season in Review: Chris Paul
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
June 9, 2011

Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2010-11 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

WHAT HAPPENED:


Paul’s 2010-11 season can be – and often was – viewed from two entirely different perspectives. On one hand, the 6-footer again was one of the NBA’s best point guards, putting up the type of statistics that any club would be happy to see from their floor general. On the other hand, Paul’s numbers were career-lows in several categories, evidence that he was curtailed physically by his 2010 offseason knee surgery. On one hand, from an individual standpoint, the four-time All-Star did not make as large of an impact as he had in previous years. On the other, New Orleans was one of the NBA’s most improved teams, qualifying for the playoffs after winning nine more games than in 2009-10. Paul was also chosen to the All-NBA third team.

A team-first guy since Day 1 of his NBA career, it’s extremely difficult to get Paul to discuss his own accomplishments at any great length. Even after a pair of historic performances during Game 1 and Game 4 playoff victories over the Lakers, Paul brushed aside talk about his individual play, because the Hornets lost the series.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” he said of the two games. “A win is a win (regardless of how individuals fare). I could care less about how I perform. With me at the end of the day, it’s all about wins and losses. And we didn’t get the job done.”

Although some of his offensive stats dropped off in 2010-11, Paul had one of his better seasons at the other end of the floor. He was voted to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team in May (Boston’s Rajon Rondo was the first-team point guard).

“He’s a tenacious defender, and I didn’t understand that,” Monty Williams said of how he viewed Paul prior to coming to NOLA. “There have been games where he just ripped the ball away from guys, and we won because of it. (He had) games where he just took over defensively. I didn’t know he did that. Usually high-steals guys are guys who gamble so much that they put other (defending teammates) in jeopardy. He gets his steals within the confines of the schemes.”

BEST GAME:


Among the vast number of memorable games Paul has played since entering the NBA in 2005, his Game 4 playoff performance against the Lakers ranks near the top of the list. With the Hornets trailing two games to one, Paul notched 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists. “I don’t even know if there are words to describe it,” teammate and longtime friend Jarrett Jack described afterward. “I mean, a triple-double of that magnitude? We’re not talking about 10, 10 and 10. It was 27, 13 and 15. He’s 5-foot-9 on a good day. Thirteen rebounds? Those are monster numbers. Those were just unbelievable (stats). He’s an All-Star in this league for a reason.”

WHAT'S NEXT:


It’s been discussed endlessly by virtually every media outlet that covers the NBA – Paul is under contract for the 2011-12 season, then has the ability to opt out of his deal in the summer of 2012. According to NBA rules, New Orleans general manager Dell Demps said the team is not allowed to offer a contract extension until July 1, when the league’s new fiscal year begins.

“I think that at some point we’ll talk to him, but I don’t think now is the time,” Demps said a week after the Lakers series ended. “He’s not eligible for an extension until the summer, so I think when that time arrives, it’ll be the time for those conversations. Chris has been engaged since Day 1. He’s been communicating with us and we have an open line of communication with him.”

For his part, Paul said after the playoffs that he believes the Hornets can improve again next season. New Orleans only had four returning players from 2009-10, but quickly developed camaraderie and chemistry on the floor.

“We can only get better,” Paul said after the Game 6 loss to the Lakers. “I’m not one of those guys who calls things moral victories. I don’t say we exceeded expectations and all that stuff, because every time I step on the court, I expect to win. This is a disappointing loss for us. We fought, even after losing D.West and all the situations we’ve been through, during the season. We continued to fight. We didn’t close it out the way we’d have liked to.

“We play to win. We weren’t trying to just go out there and say, ‘Hey we gave the Lakers a hard time.’ We’re disappointed we lost. We’ve just got to get better, all around.”

ADDITIONAL 2010-11 SEASON IN REVIEWS
DAVID WEST AARON GRAY EMEKA OKAFOR
QUINCY PONDEXTER CARL LANDRY CHRIS PAUL
JARRETT JACK JASON SMITH TREVOR ARIZA
MARCO BELINELLI WILLIE GREEN


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