OKC Thunder: Gallinari reinforces Chris Paul’s MVP level leadership

Nemanja Bjelica #88 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket in the first half against Danilo Gallinari #8 and Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Nemanja Bjelica #88 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket in the first half against Danilo Gallinari #8 and Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Danilo Gallinari joins his OKC Thunder teammates who believe Chris Paul is the best leader in the NBA and best he’s played with during his 12-year career.

Add Danilo Gallinari to the list of OKC Thunder players who are reveling in Chris Paul‘s leadership skills. Although Charles Barkley can claim ownership as the originator for calling Paul the best leader in the NBA others are lining up in agreement.

This year more than ever, that leadership argument, like Paul’s career is making a resurgence. Part of the reason why this discussion faded from the forefront perhaps was the last two teams the guard played for and more important the teammates on those teams. Or rather, the “superstars” on those clubs.

In the case of the Clippers there always seemed to be a bit of power struggle between Paul and Blake Griffin. While BG was a talent it’s not like he was a top-notch defender or committed to that end of the court on a full 48 minute basis.

After witnessing every game this season and precisely how unselfish CP3 is, it might be fair to assume that lack of commitment by Griffin would be something the veteran would be highly annoyed by. Ditto for the situation in Houston. Superstar James Harden, defense tended to be influenced by how many videos citing his mediocrity of effort or ability hit  Youtube. In fairness, Harden has shown a greater commitment this season.

The common denominator in the above two scenarios is Chris Paul had to concede to the bigger superstar.  And by bigger, I mean the star who the organization values the most. In those scenarios, that star’s voice (desires) are considered the most important from the top down – –  ownership – management – coaches – players.

The resulting effect is we heard less about Paul’s leadership ability and instead began hearing murmurs of him being the opposite – a lockerroom cancer.

That’s why this season has served as a renaissance of sorts for CP3. Whether it’s his clutch time prowess, his brilliant All-Star Game performance or the effect he’s having on the entire OKC Thunder rotation.

That his teammates are being demonstrative and effusive in his praise punctuates his effect on the squad.

Following practice, Gallo cited the Point God’s leadership on the team calling him the best leader he’s ever played with over his 12 years. The question posed to him was whether Paul should be in the Most Valuable Player conversation.

"I’ve played with a lot of players in my 12 years in the league, I think he’s the best leader that I’ve played with."

This isn’t the first time an OKC Thunder player has cited Paul’s leadership prowess. Nerlens Noel spoke of both CP3 and Gallo’s effect on the team pointing to both as solid leaders.

TalkBasket.net covered Noel’s comments from a pregame media session prior to the Pelicans match in early November.

"“The leadership that we have from Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari really showed as we continue to go down this stretch. We are staying in it, keeping our minds in it knowing that we’re playing good basketball and we just have to continue to stick with it."

Yet, perhaps the teammate’s comments which stood out the most are Dennis Schroder. Although the reserve point guard equally cited Billy Donovan his effusive praise for Paul resonated. No one else was ever able to get Dennis to play with a team-first mentality. Or at least not to the degree he is this season.

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Prior to this campaign, the feeling was always that Schroder was driven to get up his own shots as his top priority. He always possessed the playmaking to create for others or the ability to lock down opponents. The difference was those talents were on display occasionally versus nightly. In review of what Schroder said it’s clear CP3 knew precisely the right buttons to push because Schroder isn’t just talking the talk — he’s walking the walk.

The youngsters on the club all gush over Paul as well. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tends to play it off with humor but it’s clear these two have a strong bond and one that both are enjoying and benefitting from. Likewise, Darius Bazley and Lu Dort are benefitting specifically from Paul’s years of experience and Point God skills.

The veteran won’t win MVP and he likely won’t even enter the top five candidate conversation. What will happen is he’ll be on the lips of every General Manager as either someone to keep in their sights or for their own players to use as an example to emulate.

Either way, it’s been a wonderful season for Chris Paul and surely one where the renewed widespread respect is part of the reason why he’s having the time of his life.

Next. NBA 2020 Mock Draft 1.0 – Options abound for Thunder. dark

The Thunder are back in action Tuesday night when they host the LA Clippers and seek to get back in the win column.