• Analysis

Why is Chris Paul not in the MVP conversation?

Why is Chris Paul not in the MVP conversation?
The Clippers' Chris Paul beats Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook to the basket Wednesday night. (Alonzo Adams / Associated Press)

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is considered a strong contender for the NBA's most valuable player award this season.

When he went up against the Clippers' Chris Paul on Wednesday, however, there was little doubt who the top guard on the court was.

Paul had 33 points and nine assists while holding Westbrook to 24 points on five-for-14 shooting. Westbrook also had 10 turnovers, twice Paul's total.

Sure, that was only one game, and the award goes to the player who plays at the highest level all season long.


So let's look at those stats.

Paul is averaging 18.4 points, 10.1 assists (which leads the league) and 2.4 turnovers this season. Westbrook is averaging more points than Paul (27.3) but fewer assists (8.3) and more turnovers (4.1).

Both players are tenacious defenders, and both have had to step up in a major way while the Thunder's Kevin Durant and Clippers' Blake Griffin have been sidelined.

Westbrook is undoubtedly having a breakout season. Entering Wednesday's game, he had five triple-doubles in the Thunder's last six games, during which he had averaged 36.8 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

Paul isn't have a breakout season, per se. But he's been consistently great since he has entered the league, which perhaps dulls some of his luster for some people. He's not the streaking, shiny thing; he's the unbreakable cog.

In the 14 games that Griffin has been out, Paul has averaged 21.2 points and 12.3 assists, helping the team go 9-5 without their superstar power forward.

Paul is not a prolific scorer, he's a pure point guard, always looking to pass first, making everyone around him a bit better.

He also makes everyone who he's guarding a bit worse.

When the Clippers played against Portland earlier this month, Damian Lillard scored in single digits for the first time this season when Paul guarded him. And when the Cilppers played Golden State earlier this week, Stephen Curry made only one-third of his shots with Paul as his defender.

Westbrook definitely deserves to be in the MVP conversation. Doesn't Paul too?