Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul already had a sterling, Hall of Fame-worthy resume heading into Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. In collecting career assist No. 10,0000, Paul only further bolstered his legendary status in the game.
The 11-time All-Star hit 10,000 assists in spectacular fashion, throwing a perfect alley-oop pass to big man Deandre Ayton, who was streaking down the lane and finished with a powerful two-handed jam. Paul finished with a triple-double on Sunday, contributing 11 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in Phoenix’s 111-94 win.
In notching that dime, Paul became the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 10,000-assist milestone along with John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson. At his current rate, Paul will pass Johnson this season and might catch Jackson and Nash.
Here are a couple of stats takeaways from Paul in the wake of his milestone moment …
1. Paul has connected with several players en route to his 10,000 assists, but no one more than with Blake Griffin. When Paul and Griffin were on the LA Clippers (from 2011-16), Paul dished out 1,157 of his assists to Griffin. After that, his second-most assisted-to teammate was David West — which coincided with West and Paul being teammates on the New Orleans Hornets (2005-11) as he found him for 1,120 of his dimes.
2. While Paul has played for five franchises in his career, he racked up the most of his career assists with his first NBA team, the Hornets. Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of his assists by team in his career …
Chris Paul's career assists, by team:
PHX: 347 pic.twitter.com/DVfkQRTPoF
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) March 22, 2021
3. In his 16th NBA season, Paul ranks fifth in the NBA with 8.8 assists per game. If he maintains his spot, this would be Paul’s 13th season ranking in the top five in assists per game. He owns four assist titles — 2007-08 and 2008-09 with New Orleans; 2013-14 and 2014-15 with LA Clippers — and has just one season where he finished lower than seventh place in his career.
How long can CP3 keep up this level of production this late in his career and continue to climb the all-time leaderboard? Paul’s 8.8 assists per game in his 16th season or later has only been matched by Nash, Kidd and LeBron James. LeBron is the only player to do it after his 16th season, when he won his first assist title in 2019-20 in his 17th year.
This is Paul’s highest assist average since the 2016-17 season, but when we look at his consistency — he’s had just three seasons out of 16 with an assist average below 8.0 per game (rookie season 7.8; first season in Houston 7.9; only season in OKC career-low 6.7) — there’s no reason to believe that his production is just going to drop off a cliff. If anything, another season in Phoenix will allow him to develop even greater chemistry with the likes of Ayton, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges, his top three assist recipients this season.
Information from The Associated Press and NBA.com contributor Brian Martin were used in this report.