OKC Thunder: Why Chris Paul’s 40th rank on ESPN list is too low

Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder dribbles the ball. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder dribbles the ball. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder in action. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Of the five guards ranking ahead of Chris Paul the toughest to catch will be John Stockton who benefited by having Karl Malone as his target to dish dimes to. Hence, his assist and steal totals won’t be caught.

Then there are players like Iverson and Nash who won Most Valuable Player Awards. Most notable are the players who’ve won titles (Kidd, Thomas).

Collectively they each offer certain standout statistics but let’s look at Paul’s current totals and then dissect where he could finish when he completes his career.

Chris Paul – 40th:


  • 2,220 steals – seventh all-time
  • Six-time steals champion

Paul has a realistic shot at ending up third on the all-time steals list as he trails Michael Jordan by 294 total steals. With the OKC Thunder there are many active defensive players so his per game steals have dropped to 1.6 per game but getting 1.5 per game is a reasonable target for him to deliver even though he’s 35.

If he does that he’ll get 123 steals per year. That would require Paul to play for two years and a portion of a third season to surpass MJ.


  • 9,607 assists – seventh all-time

Likewise, Paul should move up in the assists category where he currently ranks seventh and is the only active player in the top seven. If healthy, he’ll surpass Oscar Robertson next season and be close to taking over Magic Johnson who is fifth on the list.

Realistically, the point guard will get at least 450 assists per year and that could be a low estimate. If he ends up moving to a team that prefers him to be more of a playmaker his yearly assists total could balloon.

Paul needs 729 assists to move into third on the all-time list ahead of Steve Nash. That should find him moving up to that spot before his existing contract finishes.  It’s unlikely he catches Kidd (12,091) unless he discovers the fountain of youth while Stockton (15,806) is untouchable in first.

  • 1,369, 3-pointers – 43rd all-time (14 players ahead of him on the list are still active)

In the current perimeter driven era of the NBA, it’s likely Paul will move up the list ahead of some of his competition. Stockton and Thomas aren’t on this list but Kidd won’t be caught. CP3 could finish in the top 30 and if he plays three more seasons will likely catch Steve Nash who he trails by 316 perimeter shots. This season he has 101 made 3-pointers (with 18 games to play) and has averaged between 122 and 147 in each of his last five seasons.


  • 2005-06 Rookie of the Year
  • All-Rookie Team
  • Eight-time All-NBA
  • Nine-time All-Defense
  • Two Olympic Medals (2012, 2008)
  • 2004 FIBA World Championship
  • 10-time All-Star
  • 2012-13 All-Star MVP

Overall Stats:

  • Career game averages: 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 2.2 steals, 1.4 – 3-pointers

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The easy assumption is Paul plays through the next two seasons to cash out that lucrative contract. What he does after that will likely depend on how fit he is.

With the point guard adopting an all-plant based diet it’s conceivable he’ll follow the Jason Kidd path. Knowing if he can land on a squad to grab that championship title it won’t be surprising if he elects to ring chase at that point in his career.

In terms of the per-game averages, he should rank third in points (Iverson, Thomas),  second to his counterparts for rebounding (Kidd), and second in assists (Stockton).

He currently is tied with Nash and Kidd with 1.4 perimeter shots made per game and could overtake them to hold the top spot alone depending on the system he plays on to finish his career. Some of Kidd’s best perimeter shooting seasons occurred in the latter stages of his career.

Ultimately, the one thing holding back Paul from pulling ahead of all five of these point guards is a title. Should he find a path in the late stages of his career to add that elusive Larry O’B to his resume, he’ll have an excellent argument to vault ahead of at least four if not all five of the point guards listed.