If Chris Paul signs with the San Antonio Spurs, he could be the one piece that lifts them above the Golden State Warriors.
On Friday, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that soon-to-be free agent Chris Paul will give “serious consideration” to joining the San Antonio Spurs in free agency in July. He would even be willing to have a one-on-one meeting with the front office.
Acquiring someone like Paul gives the Spurs a top-notch point guard to replace the injured Tony Parker. Not only that, but it will help them counter the dangerous Golden State Warriors, who are already three games away from winning a second NBA championship in three years.
So how could the Spurs, led by Paul, top the Warriors? Let’s dive into the top reasons:
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) posts up on LA Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
3. Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard Make for Top Defensive Duo
Defense has always been a specialty for Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs. It has carried them to championships, including the defensive standout years of 2003 and 2005. They had dynamic defenders like Bruce Bowen on the perimeter and Tim Duncan in the low post, but now are left with a premier player on the perimeter: Kawhi Leonard.
For the past few years, Leonard has been the defensive catalyst for the Spurs. He’s only grown into this role, as his offensive game has developed into one of the best in the league. It’s made the San Diego State product arguably the best two-way player in the NBA.
Adding Chris Paul to the mix to team with Leonard will give the Spurs a top defensive duo to counter the Warriors. Leonard can defend Kevin Durant, while Paul guards Stephen Curry and try to keep them in check as much as possible.
The Spurs backcourt got crushed by the Warriors in the 2017 Western Conference finals. Of course, it didn’t help that Leonard was out for most of the series, along with Tony Parker’s absence. Even if Parker was healthy, how much of a difference would he have made?
The Spurs having two defensive stoppers would make a future matchup with the Warriors intriguing. It’s going to be difficult to halt Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson, but Paul represents a way of at least limiting the dynamic offensive threats.
Next: Paul is Motivated
April 25, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) reacts after he scores a basket against the Utah Jazz during the second half in game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Chris Paul is as Motivated as the Spurs Are After the WCF
Paul has been one of the NBA’s best players for over a decade, and from New Orleans to Los Angeles, he has yet to win a title. His time with the Clippers was supposed to lead to NBA Finals appearances or championships. Instead, it’s led to them being on the outside looking in for his full tenure in Southern California.
At age 32, it’s getting to a point of it being now or never for Paul winning an NBA Championship, at least as a star of a team. If he doesn’t think this will happen with a Clipper team that hasn’t made noise deep in the playoffs, then it may be time to move to a team — the Spurs — that have for years.
CP3 will join a team that already should be motivated after losing Kawhi Leonard for the Western Conference Finals. If they had Leonard, it could have been a tighter series, but if they can stay healthy and get Paul onto the court, might there be a fire lit under the Spurs for a potential series with the Warriors?
Next: Knows the Warriors Well
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) high fives forward David Lee (10), guard Manu Ginobili (20) and forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) after a basket and foul against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
1. New Array of Weapons
Paul worked with the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin for his time in Los Angeles. He even had the sharp-shooting JJ Redick at shooting guard, who has been one of the best wings to play with Paul in his NBA career. However, this cast hasn’t proven to be enough, and rarely received changes through the years of Vinny Del Negro and Doc Rivers.
In San Antonio, Paul would work with players who aren’t as flawed as Jordan, Griffin, and Redick. Kawhi Leonard may become the most talented teammate the Wake Forest product has ever played with, someone who has morphed into one of the best players in the NBA. He can shoot from all distances of the court and be the wing player Paul has always needed.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s stats have slipped a bit since coming to San Antonio, but if Paul joins, could we see the best version of this five-time All-Star to date? He’ll have the space to shoot mid-range and be fed under the post, potentially providing numbers that look closer to his first year in San Antonio.
After that, the situation gets clouded a bit, as the Spurs will likely have to rework their roster if Paul signs. That potentially means draft picks and low-cost veteran free agents are brought in to supplement Aldridge, Leonard and Paul. Danny Green, who’s under contract for next season, could remain and be the primary two-guard option.