The "One-Man Team" Fallacy

There's been plenty of talk that Chris Paul's reduced role in the offense is a strategic, planned move- one that "forces" his teammates to learn how to play offense. The reasoning goes thusly- Chris Paul can carry this team through the regular season if he feels like it, but the team would get killed in the playoffs with such an imbalanced offensive strategy.

To an extent, I see the logic. Teams play significantly improved defense in the post-season and will key in on players that shoulder offensive responsibility. 

But there's a huge, huge difference between incorporating other players into the offense by putting them in scoring situations and simply handing them the ball on the perimeter and telling them to score. The Hornets have increasingly opted for the latter option. That hasn't worked, and it won't work.

There's a reason players like Trevor Ariza, Marco Belinelli, Jason Smith, etc, have been discarded by multiple teams. They're not scorers. They can't create effectively for themselves. The idea that "Chris Paul/Monty Williams is 'teaching' his teammates that they need to step up, too" is absurd for that very reason. If Monty Williams or Chris Paul truly want this to become a more balanced offense, they need to quit the force-feeding of incompetent offensive players and to start running plays that actually put those guys in position to score. We can't express our exasperation enough at Trevor Ariza's possessions, but you'll notice that well over 60% of his catches come outside the three point line. He's not good from out there, he's not particularly great at getting to the rim and finishing from out there, but through 28 games, the team has shown no signs of recognizing this. 

The point is this: the Hornets are playing exceptional defense right now. Only the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics allow fewer points per possession. What Monty Williams has done on that side of the ball is nothing short of incredible. If you substitute a league average offense (1.066 points per possession) for what the Hornets have right now (1.036 point per possession), the expected record jumps from 16-12 to 19-9. That's a league average offense. 

Nobody's asking Chris Paul to "take over." If the goal is to indeed funnel shots and possessions away from Paul, the team simply needs to do it in a reasonable way. Run offense going to the hoop, run guys off back screens, let high volume shooters like Willie Green get their looks off curls and not isolations. 50 games of isolations for Green, Ariza, Jarrett Jack, or whoever else is not magically going to make them more efficient offensive players. That's just not the way basketball works.

Either Paul or the system needs to facilitate any attempts at balancing the offense. If it's not Paul, it needs to be the system, and vice versa. Right now, it's neither.

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