Chris Paul hasn’t been healthy since the start of the Houston Rockets season, and it’s smart to hold him out until he’s back to 100 percent.
The Houston Rockets acquired Chris Paul in the offseason for exactly one purpose: to have a legitimate shot at an NBA title.
Despite winning 55 games last season, Houston never really had a real shot at reaching the Finals. Sure, we have a similar style to Golden State, playing at an increased pace and hoisting 3’s at a soaring rate, but we lacked the necessary firepower. The NBA is a star driven league, and the numbers weren’t on Houston’s side.
Paul was brought in to help even the playing field. Sure, Golden State is still the favorites to take it all, but Houston is right behind them. The Chris Paul trade symbolized a power shift in the league. Last year, it was the Warriors first, the Spurs second, and then everyone else. This season, the four horsemen in Golden State still control the throne, but Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are all vying for that second spot.
The NBA season is a long, grueling one. It’s spread out over 82 games, lasts for 7 months, includes dreadful road trips and exhausting back-to-backs. Despite ever-increasing competition in the West, the Rockets will finish towards the top of the conference, barring a barrage of catastrophic injuries.
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Paul missed the preseason finale against San Antonio with a bruised left knee. The decision to hold the point guard out was thought to be a precautionary measure. Surely if it were a regular season game, he would’ve played, right? Well, in the opener against Golden State, Paul suited up, but he didn’t look like himself.
Paul struggled to score, finishing with just 4 points on 2 of 9 from the floor. His struggles were due in part to playing in a brand new system against the best defensive team in the league, but that wasn’t a Chris Paul performance. He was visibly limping in parts of the game, and he didn’t have the quickness or explosiveness that we’ve seen for the past 12 years. And you knew that something wasn’t right when one of the best late game performers watched the conclusion of the contest on the bench.
Paul didn’t play in Wednesday’s matchup against Sacramento and he won’t play on Saturday against Dallas either, according to Jonathan Feigen. Paul’s injury isn’t anything serious, it’s just a bruise, but Houston is being smart by playing it safe with CP3.
With great teams in the NBA, May is way more important than October. That’s why we always see LeBron James cruise through the regular season, and then turn back into his otherworldly self in the playoffs.
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Chris Paul is 32 years old and in the twilight of his prime. The Houston Rockets don’t have the next five years to figure things out with this roster. They have to win now. That’s why Houston should hold Chris Paul out until he’s 100 percent healthy.