Chris Paul Only Has Good Stats Because He Dribbles Around a Lot

I would start by saying,"I'm sure you've all heard Rajon Rondo's comments...", but I won't say that, because I hadn't heard them, and by the transitive property of my intellectual superiority, you probably haven't either.

But seriously though, hat tip to Hornets Hype for linking me to the Chris Mannix tweet, and forcing me to address a topic I've long wanted to. 

First, Rondo's alleged quote, through Kendrick Perkins, through Chris Mannix: "Chris Paul has the stats that he has because he has the ball in his hands all game."

This is an assertion I've seen echoed by many, many people before. In fact, it's one of the prime arguments that the Deron Williams > Chris Paul crowd affixes itself to. I.e., "if Chris Paul played in Utah's offense, where he would actually have to set screens and do things other than dribble 24/7, he'd be way worse than Deron Williams."

Random note: I just realized I get, like, an adrenaline rush whenever I see a Hornet even minorly slighted. I was just about to go to sleep, decided to check out the Hype one more time before turning in, and then boom! Wide awake, knifing through statistics, thinking up witty banter.

Anyways, as you might imagine, there's some very flawed logic that accompanies Rondo's statement.

First of all, I'm going to go out on a very short limb here and assume that Rondo is speaking of total stats, in lieu of rate stats. People that read this site (and people that do not, but are intelligent) are surely aware of the idiocy of relying on total statistics. But even if we cut Rondo a little slack, and assume he was talking about rate stats... he's still wrong.

Look around the league. You'll find plenty of point guards with very solid assist rate and scoring efficiencies, with usage rates in the 18%-22% range (oh, hey.... that's funny. Rondo's one of them!). If Rondo were right, every coach in the league is an imbecile for not giving his lower usage, higher efficiency players more possessions. The reason Rondo's wrong is that efficiency stats tend to decrease with increases in usage rate. You can't just assume that a player producing 1.1 points/possession, using 1 in every 5 team possessions, will sustain that rate while using 2 in every 5 team possessions. Specifically, sustainability is a skill set unto its own. It can come in the form of creativity (perhaps that one head fake will work when you use it once every 20 possessions, but not so well when your opponent sees it every other time down the floor), physical endurance, or a number of other aspects.

The reason Chris Paul (and Dwyane Wade and LeBron James) are so good is because they can be incredibly efficient on offense while using a ton of possessions. This is why they are given a ton of possessions. Rondo has the process precisely backwards. And before we dispense with Rondo, one more thing:

Rondo, career usage: 18.3%
Paul, career usage: 24.8%
Rondo, points/100 possessions: 108
Paul, points/100 possessions: 124

So not only would Rondo be worse than Paul if he were able to sustain his current efficiency and were given Paul's usage (unlikely), he wouldn't be close. And if we were to be realistic and pare down Rondo's projected efficiency at Paul's usage... um, yeah.

And re: the Deron Williams crowd. In Williams' case, it isn't the disparity in usage rate we should be looking at; DWill has highly comparable usage statistics to Paul. The DWill crowd's gripe is that Hornet plays are "set up" to either end on Paul assist or shots. They contend that Utah's offense doesn't center on Williams ending every play. Well, guess what! Hornets plays are set up like that, because Paul is extremely, extremely good at ending plays like that. Williams' efficiencies are far lower, running his offense however the hell he runs it; often, Utah plays end with Boozer, Millsap, Kirilenko, or others creating. The fact is, Utah has a much stronger supporting cast than New Orleans. Jerry Sloan wisely uses this to his advantage. To assume that Williams would have Paul's stats (rates and totals) if he played in a similar offense is dead wrong, because Williams' turnover rates and overall offensive efficiencies strongly point to the contrary.

Chris Paul has the stats that he has because he has the ball in his hands all game, and also because he happens to be Chris Paul.

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