PLAYA VISTA – Of all the things Chris Paul does well, gauging the temperature of the team and his role within its offense is likely at the top of the list.

He is a perennial MVP candidate for a reason, so when he gazed out at a group of reporters Wednesday night at Staples Center and said, “A lot of guys have been telling me I need to be more aggressive; that I’ve been letting guys off the hook” it carried weight.

It’s something of a balancing act for a point guard as unselfish as Paul. He often leans towards getting teammates involved early, finding a rhythm and making a permanent imprint on the final 12 minutes of the game.

“He’s usually being played a certain way in the beginning of the game and instead of being overly aggressive in those situations,” small forward Caron Butler said. “Whether he’s being blitzed or hard shows [on the pick and roll], he’s usually getting off the ball and creating opportunities for myself and other teammates and then obviously in the third and fourth quarter he finds a rhythm and takes over the game.”

Through 18 games this season, Paul is scoring 18.6% of his 290 total points (16.1 per game) in the first quarter, as opposed to 26.0% of his points in the fourth.

“I always try to get everybody involved,” Paul said. “I have the ball in my hands so much I always know that I have the opportunity to score and at times we do play better if I’m a little aggressive earlier.”

The uptick in aggression is not necessarily just about scoring the ball, which was evident against the Mavericks Wednesday. Paul took three shots, all misses, but had six assists and two steals against Derek Fisher and Darren Collison, helping the Clippers to one of their more prolific opening quarters in recent weeks.

Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro knows it will be a bit of an adjustment for the five-time All-Star to change his mentality midstream.

“He understands it,” Del Negro said. “He’s got to change his mind set a little bit. It’s not easy for him [because] he’s such an unselfish player. He puts us in a position of strength when he has that mentality, being aggressive for us.”

It is not as if Paul had trouble noticing for himself. After Friday’s practice he said that he spends an inordinate amount of time watching film and critiquing his game.

“There’s this website where I can watch every shot that I’ve ever made in the NBA,” Paul said, referencing Synergy Sports Technology, a subscription service that ingests and indexes real-time broadcasts. “That’s all I do on the road or at home. I watch this website, just watching shots I’ve made, missed, turnovers, steals, assists, everything.

“I watch so much film. I watch film from me from my rookie year, my second year. I watch film all day, every day. I always tell myself, I feel better now than I did maybe three years ago, as far as my body, so why not be aggressive and be like I was in the past.”

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