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The Return of Chris Paul

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Calling Chris Paul's last three games encouraging is an understatement. To see the leader of the Hornets come back from what seemed like a devastating injury in tip-top shape is simply amazing. His numbers over the last three games have been eye-popping, but the most telling statistic has been his FGA. For the season, CP3 has been averaging a modest 11.5 FGA per game, down considerably from the last few seasons. However, since returning from his concussion, Paul has attempted an astonishing 17.7 field goals (making 31 of them for a 58.5 FG%).

Granted these performances haven't come against top-notch defensive teams, but they are a leap (yeah, not just a step) in the right direction. He will be tested come Saturday night, when New Orleans heads to Beantown to take on the menacing Boston Celtics. Paul will be matched up with the pesky Rajon Rondo, and that match-up will tell us a lot about a potential change in CP3's game.

David West has easily been the most consistent offensive player in the Big Easy. But, the Hornets don't have any other player besides West who can create his own shot. For the Hornets to maximize their chances of going deep into the playoffs this season, Paul will need to be a scorer as well as a facilitator - something that, along with CP3, only Deron Williams does at an elite level. I believe Paul's scoring is a little underrated. He shoots a solid percentage from mid-range to go along with his ability to get to the charity stripe.

Throughout this season , we have seen him turn down open looks and potential drives to basket in an attempt to integrate the other Hornets into the offense. At times, this has happened at a frustratingly high rate. Having a balanced offense that contains 5 different scoring threats on the floor at the same time is great, but Paul needs to take control when the time is right. He has definitely not been doing a lot of that this year. This may be due to various reasons (i.e. his knee) but as long as he is on the court I expect him to complete this task with relative ease. His pass-first point guard mentality is great, so long as he maintains the understanding of when to turn his scoring switch on.

Seeing the CP3 who played with reckless abandon and a competitive fire that may have been unmatched by any other NBA player again is a treat. We can only hope that these past three games won't end up being an anomaly in an otherwise forgettable season for Paul. Statistics don't tell the whole story, but just watching him play, I can tell that his demeanor is different. I can't tell exactly why he has begun playing like his old self after playing with a near laid back approach for most of the first half of the NBA season, but I assume it may have something to do with the playoffs approaching. The Western Conference is once again highly competitive, and a bad stretch may drop the Hornets into an unfavorable seventh or eighth seed. This may be having an effect on his play, but whatever the reason, I am ecstatic to watch Chris Paul play basketball at the level we're accustomed to.