Chris Paul has played in 76 career playoff games, the most all-time by a player without a conference finals appearance. He is 10th all-time in assists, 15th in steals, third in assists per game, fifth in steals per game, and is the only player in NBA history to average 18 points, nine assists, and two steals for his career. Carmelo Anthony, on the other hand, has played in 66 career playoff games. He reached the conference finals with Denver in 2009, beating Paul’s Hornets in the first round that same year. He’s 25th in total points and 14th in points per game, and those are the only career stats worth noting when it comes to Melo; Basketball Reference doesn’t even highlight where he stands on the all-time assists, rebounds, and steals lists. So why do people expect more from Melo than they do from Paul?
Maybe it’s because Carmelo doesn’t exactly exude the characteristics of a leader the same way CP3 does. Paul is a little guy who gets in his teammates’ faces, plays elite defense, and passes the ball; by far a better player than Melo in every facet except scoring and rebounding. Anthony gets shitted on year in, year out for never winning a ring, for not making teammates better while Oscar winner Chris Paul is touted as the league’s best point guard year in, year out, yet he’s never even been a series away from the Finals. Melo did that; he also has a national championship on his resume from his time at Syracuse. Chris never made it past the Sweet 16 during his two years at Wake Forest (2004 and 2005). Do we see a trend here? He gets his numbers, but he isn’t elevating his teammates’ games.
make sure to flame Paul for his shortcomings the way you do Carmelo. Not because it would be fair, but because he deserves it.
Yet, Anthony is the one who draws the most ire from fans and media alike about being a career loser, even though he has never been as a good a player as Paul, nor is he a point guard whose job description is to make teams better. Carmelo has never been accused of being a bad teammate as much as Paul and doesn’t flop like a fish out of water like him either. At what point do we start to hold Paul to the same standards as Melo? He’s been slandered so much throughout his career (with an emphasis in New York) he feels like Ali on the Esquire cover. Don’t let Chris Paul’s fiery demeanor fool you, he’s not Zeke from the Chi leading his team of goons to the promised land twice in the era of Bird and Magic.
Granted neither has had the good fortune of competent front offices, and both have played for borderline Hall of Fame head coaches at best. George Karl and Doc Rivers aren’t chopped liver, but they ain’t Gregg Popovich either. Rivers hasn’t proven to be a very good GM being that the Clippers have needed a solid starting wing player ever since Blake, DeAndre, and CP3 have been together. Melo plays for the Knicks, so, yeah, I’m not even going to down that rabbit hole. One has to take these factors into consideration when judging Melo’s and CP3’s careers.
Paul’s Hornets team overachieved the first year they found themselves in the playoffs, stunning the Spurs in a first-round, seven-game series; that’s where Paul’s meaningful postseason wins stop. He was supposed to contend in L.A., end his conference finals drought, and take the city from the Lakers. However, bad luck in the form of injuries and Everyman Jesus Steph Curry had different plans for the NBA’s point gawd nine years and running. Back in 2013, Griffin suffered a high ankle sprain during a first-round series versus the Memphis Grizzlies. In 2016, he and Paul had their postseasons cut short due to injury. In this year’s first round Blake was ruled out with a toe injury after just three games as well. And to be fair, 2016 and 2017 were a wash because the Clippers weren’t going to beat the Warriors even if fully healthy.
Carmelo, like Paul, has had multiple chances to reach the conference finals. He went in 2009 when Chauncey Billups was feeding him the ball but wasn’t able to do so when he was flanked by Allen Iverson for two seasons and some change. Melo makes his teammates better by default; he demands so much attention on the court that his mere presence gets guys wide-open shots.
So what’s next for Chris Paul? Will he opt out of his contract this offseason and join one of his banana boat brothers? Or will he try to stick it out with the Clippers and finally get a chance to play for a Finals appearance? Whatever the case may be, make sure to flame him for his shortcomings the way you do Carmelo. Not because it would be fair, but because he deserves it.