Paul made history on Tuesday night by moving into third place on the all-time NBA assists list. He continues to play at an elite level at the age of 36, despite numerous physical setbacks and plenty of playoff anguish. Booker demands basketball fans take some time to pay homage to the Point God.
Chris Paul passed former Suns star Steve Nash for third place on the all-time assists list
For all the (rightful) talk about LeBron James‘ reputation as an ageless wonder, Chris Paul has been every bit as brilliant in the final stages of his Hall of Fame career.
Paul added another notch to the belt Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. He moved into third place on the all-time NBA assists list, passing former Suns star and two-time league MVP Steve Nash. Paul has dished out 18 dimes and tallied 10 or more assists in five of Phoenix’s first six games.
The Suns are struggling out of the gates. Phoenix opened the 2021-22 campaign at 3-3. Devin Booker is shooting just 40.5% from the field and 27.8% from deep. More notably, the defense is slipping. The Suns rank 18th in defensive rating after ranking ninth in that category last season.
However, Paul remains one of the best true point guards in the NBA. Booker appears to understand just how lucky he is to play alongside greatness.
Devin Booker praised CP3 and lauded his accomplishments
Devin Booker’s relationship with Chris Paul got off to a flying start almost as soon as CP3 arrived in Phoenix. It has continued to blossom during the Point God’s second season in The Valley.
Booker said (h/t ESPN) it’s essential for fans and his fellow Suns teammates to recognize what Paul has achieved during his career after CP3 took sole possession of third place on the all-time assists list.
“We keep acting like this is normal. We go in the locker room like, ‘Oh you passed Steve Nash, Mark Jackson. Game ball.’ It’s bigger than that, man. It really is. Obviously I know he was going to be close coming into today and he passed it by a lot. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”–Devin Booker, via ESPN
Booker’s respect for Paul is evident. Why shouldn’t it be?
Paul made All-NBA Second Team in each of the last two seasons. He dragged the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs in 2020 before helping the Suns to their first NBA Finals berth since 1993 this past summer. The Winston-Salem native is also off to a strong start early in the 2021-22 campaign, leading the NBA at 11.8 assists per game through the first six contests.
The admiration between the future Hall of Famer and the star 2-guard is mutual. Book himself is the primary reason CP3 wanted to come to Phoenix in the first place. Paul said as much throughout the 2020-21 season.
After coming up just short of the ultimate goal last season, can Booker help Paul get the only thing missing on his glistening resume?
Booker figures to play a big role in determining whether Paul finally gets a championship ring
Chris Paul’s NBA legacy is nearly set in stone. The lone thing missing is a title, and Booker’s ability to turn things around might well determine Phoenix’s championship hopes.
Booker missed nearly the entirety of the preseason, which could partially explain his slow start. He’s shooting just 45.9% from inside the arc, which is truly uncharacteristic for one of the best mid-range shooters in basketball. Indeed, Booker’s and Paul’s dominance in the mid-range largely defined the Suns’ run to the Finals last season.
Phoenix needs Book to find his scoring efficiency and give life to what has been a somewhat lifeless season. The 25-year-old can show even more reverence to CP3 by helping bring him to the promised land and hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.