CP3: Superstar Game, Role Players Work Ethic
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

December 30, 2010

Chris Paul has already been selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game three times. Hes won an Olympic gold medal (in 2008), the NBAs Rookie of the Year trophy (2005-06), as well as various other individual awards too numerous to list. Although Paul clearly ascended to superstar status when he finished as a runner-up to Kobe Bryant in the leagues MVP race in 2007-08, the sixth-year pro is still described as a gym rat by teammates and coaches. That description may not sound like a flattering one at first glance, but its a term that aptly sums up the 6-foot point guards single-minded dedication to improvement.

Paul is obsessed by basketball: When hes not practicing the skills that have helped him become arguably the best ballhandler in the sport, hes poring over video from previous New Orleans games, or scouting upcoming opponents by watching games on NBA LeaguePass.

People say theyre basketball junkies and gym rats, but you have to do the stuff he does to prove that, Hornets head coach Monty Williams said of the time the 25-year-old devotes to his craft. I did that a bit when I was a player, but not to the degree that Chris does it.

Ive been around really good players who bring (their best effort) every day in the game, but yet they dont practice (hard). Chris practices every day. His (basketball) IQ is off the chart.

Through the first month-plus of the 2010-11 season, the Wake Forest product continued to make incremental improvements to several aspects of his game. For example, over the first 20 regular season games, Paul was connecting on a career-high 49 percent of his three-point attempts. As a rookie, Paul finished at just 28.2 percent from three-point range, but has steadily made defenses more and more fearful of his perimeter shooting accuracy.

Although casual basketball observers sometimes assume that the NBAs premier players are the ones whove been blessed with the most natural talent, Paul is one of the leagues shortest players and is not a great leaper, either. Williams says its no accident how Paul has accomplished so much as a player.

I could sit here for a while talking about what he means to this city and this team, Williams said. There is no surprise that hes great, because he puts the work in.

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