OKC Thunder: Chris Paul impact on All-Star weekend dominates news

Trae Young #24 of Team Giannis dribbles the ball while being guarded by OKC Thunder guard Chris Paul. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Trae Young #24 of Team Giannis dribbles the ball while being guarded by OKC Thunder guard Chris Paul. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

In his 10th All-Star appearance, OKC Thunder vet Chris Paul made a huge impression both for his play on the court and for suggesting the format change.

Although the 2020 NBA All-Star Game and weekend are in the rearview mirror many are still talking about that exciting fourth quarter. And, while Kawhi Leonard took home the inaugural renamed Kobe Bryant MVP award there is another player getting a ton of hype. That’s none other than OKC Thunder guard Chris Paul.

Fans who watched the game and that final frame know precisely how large CP3’s impact was on the match. For those who missed it, the film clip highlights show off his first dunk in four seasons. But, what the highlights don’t show is just how large his effect was on the hardwood.

Post game interviews offered up some insights from his teammates, opposing Team Giannis players and his All-Star Head Coach Frank Vogel.

Leadership is a staple for CP3:

SB Nation writer Michael Pina served up a fantastic article on Paul and why the Point God makes the Sunday marquee event of the weekend better. For OKC Thunder fans it’s not surprising his leadership resonates even when he plays with superstars.

That factor along with his still impressive skillset is likely why he was among the 44 players tapped to attend the Olympic camp this coming summer.

"“Chris Paul is a big reason for the win,” Frank Vogel said after the game. “He told me early in the day that he wasn’t one of those vets that just likes to take a rest in a game like this, that he wants to come in and win a game and help our guys win a game.All the young guys throughout the course of the game, every time they made a mistake or didn’t play defense, he was yelling at them. So he got us — not only got us to the finish line but also provided great leadership and some big plays in that fourth quarter down the stretch.”"

Again, for Thunder fans, the fact Paul was barking out orders to his teammates or getting them to lock down defensively isn’t surprising. Mind you, it’s not a common sight to see him yelling at his teammates.

Rather, he is often seen leading huddle conversations or pulling over a teammate to discuss something on the hardwood. Perhaps this is because, for the most part, his teammates are young and utilizing a calmer approach nets better results.

Whatever his choice of delivery it’s certainly working as his protegee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to grow. More impressive is the improvement in Dennis Schroder this season and while head coach Billy Donovan gets part of the credit, there’s no way Paul hasn’t been a factor.

Countless times this year we’ve been privy to the two point guards having animated discussions and they are usually ones in which Paul is doing the talking and Schroder is the one nodding his head.

As the for the big game another interesting tidbit from Pina’s article was the fact Paul has posted 112 assists through his 10 All-Star appearances ranking 15 behind Magic Johnson with much less time played.

"Paul was a game-high +13, with a game-high offensive rating of 192.5. He finished with 23 points and six assists, giving him 112 for his career, just 15 below Magic Johnson — who played nearly 100 more minutes — for the all-time All-Star Game lead. Throughout the game, he looked like a wizard staring into a smokey black cauldron."

Sexton cites CP3 as his mentor:

The veteran point guard is often cited by the younger generation as someone they look up to or observe as a mentor. Donovan Mitchell previously stated when CP3 advised he was ready to enter the draft and not return to school he heeded that advice.

Another young star who is crediting Paul is the Cavalier’s Collin Sexton who specifically notes the vet as someone he uses as an example and reaches out to weekly for advice. Writer Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype interviewed Sexton who offered the following:

"Who were some of the veterans who had the biggest impact on you and mentored you the most – whether it’s on or off the court.?CS: K-Love, Chris Paul and Coach Avery Johnson. Those guys, they’ve been where I want to get to. I just take bits and pieces of their game so that I can learn from them and understand the game even more.My relationship with Chris goes back to high school when I played on his teams (Team CP3). Ever since then, we’ve just been building that relationship. I talk to him every week and just pick his brain and figure out how he feels about certain plays and things that I can incorporate into my game. It’s cool."

Appreciation for OKC Thunder:

Paul’s Team CP3 has affected many of the young stars in the league and it’s partially why he’s been exposed to so many young stars in the league today.

The Point God sat down with Maria Taylor during the weekend and discussed his thoughts on being with the OKC Thunder, his health, being away from family and the team’s success.

"I think though those sort of trials earlier in the season when we were losing those closer games, we were learning.”…”Now when we get into all these close games we expect to win, we sorta know what we’re gonna do.”…”So to have 33 wins, you can’t go back; we’re happy where we are, and we’re gonna keep growing.”"

Perhaps the most notable thing he tells Taylor is he expected the team to be better earlier but isn’t dissatisfied since the club is winning and are ready to keep improving. Check out the video above to hear the vet discuss how he feels about these subjects.

All-Star 2020 had Paul’s fingerprints all over it:

Finally, in T.I.’s five takeaways from the All-Star Game, Paul figured prominently.

"Although the dunk early in the game was something special, if not for Leonard’s defensive brilliance there was a very real argument for Paul to win the MVP. His three 3-pointers single-handedly erased the nine-point deficit Team LeBron trailed by to start the fourth.He was everywhere on the court cutting down passing lanes, playing tough-nosed defense and although LeBron was the key ball handler CP3’s effect was palpable."

More from Thunderous Intentions

In retrospect, no one should be surprised by the vet wanting to win even in the All-Star Game. Factor in he’s the one who made the initial suggestion for the change and was extremely close to Kobe Bryant.

Those combined elements only made him more driven to bring his tough-nosed skills to the hardwood and words of wisdom to the sidelines. As TI often points to Charles Barkley has often stated Chris Paul is the best leader in the NBA (sometimes he says in all of sports).

After how he performed this past weekend in Chicago more fans will be buying that assessment.

As for his current team, there is no need to get buy-in as his OKC Thunder teammates know all too well how his leadership is helping the club. His clutch time prowess is bordering on mythical proportions.

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To that end, the break will wrap up at week’s end with the team back in action in a major match this Friday as they host the current second seeds in the West – the Denver Nuggets.