Paul experiences year of transition

Friday, June 10, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

Whether it was a new head coach, a wide array of new teammates or a forced, altered approach to his game, 2010-11 was a season filled with adjustments for Chris Paul. While lacking some of the explosiveness he’d shown in previous seasons, it was more difficult for the four-time All-Star to consistently take over games. One of the biggest arguments among fans all season was whether Paul was being aggressive enough on the offensive end. For the first time in his six-year career, he had several low-single-digit scoring games, including a 0-point outing at Memphis on April 10.

During the second half of the regular season, when Monty Williams was asked if the Hornets needed Paul to score or distribute more, he answered “both,” a response that helped illustrate how much the team required of their best player. “Chris knows how to manage a game,” Williams said. “The problem is, if you at some (teammates’) numbers on the team, their production has dropped off (from early in the season). When there are drops, it’s tough for Chris to manage, ‘OK, should I be aggressive now, or do I need to get those guys more involved?’ ”

“Chris can score 20 or 25 points every night if he wanted,” Williams continued. “But being the point guard that he is, he tries to get everyone involved. There are times when I tell him in the middle of a game to be more aggressive. And he knows before I tell him, what I’m going to say. He knows when to pick and choose when to be aggressive, but the bottom line is our team has to be productive.”

The following are additional noteworthy quotes related to Paul’s 2010-11 season, which concluded with him authoring two historic individual performances against the Lakers:
On the city of New Orleans:
“It's not about what I've done for this team. I think it's the town; look at what this team has done for me. This city has definitely embraced me and lifted me up, and I'm truly grateful for it. I'm one of those people that's always been a family person. Since I stepped foot in New Orleans I felt like this was my extended family.”

On his in-between game:
“My teardrop floater in the lane is something I’ve been doing pretty much my whole life. Unfortunately I’ve always been pretty short, so when I get into the lane, I shoot it to where the guy has to jump to the top of the square (to block it). I think it’s kind of deflating for a big man. When they get that running start, they just know they can block that shot. They jump as high as they can and that ball just goes right over their fingertips. That’s when you know you really shot a nice one.”

On Paul’s shooting and decision-making on offense:
“The one thing he doesn’t get credit for is his three-point shooting. Last year, before he hurt his ankle, he was shooting 67 percent, I think. When a guy can shoot a three, and get in the paint and shoot that teardrop, it just aggravates the defense. I can see it on the opposing centers’ faces, when they go to block that shot. They can jump as high as they can, but sometimes they have no shot at (blocking) it. Or they foul him. His touch is off the chart, because he knows how to put English on it or just put it through the net. It’s a tough shot to defend. I know I’d foul him before he got into that shot. If you’re thinking, instead of what you do naturally, you’re not playing good defense. Players like Chris make you think on the floor. If you’re thinking against him, you’re going to get burned.”

On interacting with Paul this summer:
“I’m not going to talk to him as much as I did last summer. I think I need to give him a break. I think he’s probably tired of hearing from me. I’m always on Chris about certain things and it can wear you out. It can wear the relationship out. I’m going to back off of him for a while. We’ll talk later this summer about improvements we need to make in our offense and our defense and things that I think he can do to become more efficient. It’ll be the same conversation we have all the time. One thing I don’t want to do is be a coach 24/7. There comes a time when I have to back off of that and I’m looking forward to getting to know some of our guys off the court. Whether it’s taking those guys fishing or out to eat or something along those lines – I think it’s important.”