Report cards: Paul

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
11:03
AM PT
Here is the final player capsule in our ongoing look at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers, and what's ahead for 2012-2013. We examined every player who finished the season on the roster. Later, we'll look at the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Mo Williams, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

Now, we do Chris Paul.

2011-2012 contributions: Chris Paul had a magnificent first season with the Clippers. Maybe his first postseason wasn't as good as expected -- and injuries probably played a role in that -- but he truly was everything the organization could have hoped for in the 60 regular-season games he played. He averaged 19.8 points and 9.1 assists and proved to be a legitimate 3-point threat, taking the most 3-pointers of his career and converting 37 percent of them. Statistically, though, the area Paul shined the brightest was in the category of turnovers. There are players who produce similar numbers of points and assists as Paul, like Nets point guard Deron Williams, but there aren't any who do it while keeping their turnover totals anywhere near Paul's. Williams, for example, averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists but four turnovers per game. The Clippers' point guard just doesn't waste many possessions, and that's one of the reasons why he's so great.

2012-2013 prediction: Oh, man. Next season is really going to dictate a lot for Paul and his future with this organization. You have to assume he'll agree to come back if the Clippers continue making progress like they did this year, but what happens if they stay stagnant and exit early in the playoffs again? That could be trouble. Luckily, there is plenty of reason to believe that the team -- and Paul -- could be better in 2012-2013. Really, there was about a month this year where he wasn't himself because of a balky knee and other nagging injuries, which the lockout-shortened season didn't help. He took about two weeks to get going after Christmas and then struggled for the final two weeks of the postseason. Take those periods away and the season could have gone differently. Paul could also use a more established, more consistent backcourt mate next year, and preferably a legitimate shooting guard, not a point masquerading as one. That wouldn't hurt, either.

Grade: A

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