Chris Paul is a guy who continues to get hate around the league and I don’t really understand it. It feels like true basketball fans would recognize a truly special talent when they see it, and after watching him make almost every single team he’s been on elite, it’s time for the haters to take that sh*t elsewhere.

It’s true he’s had a series of unfortunate injuries, but outside of that, he’s a true competitor and a guy you absolutely want on your squad.

Despite the polarization around him, nothing can take away from what the guy has been doing in fantasy hoops at the age of 35 this season, putting up enough per-game value to rank 30th in 9-category leagues according to Basketball Monster and enough total value on the season to be 27th according to the same blokes. Yahoo! has him ranked 29th.

I was writing to take him in the second round prior to the start of the season, when he was still in OKC and that was a bit of a stretch admittedly, though that would be better than all these guys taken in the second round on Yahoo! this season: Jimmy Butler, DeAndre Ayton, Russell Westbrook, John Collins, Ben Simmons, Ja Morant, Rudy Gobert, and Zion Williamson.

Why? Chris Paul has been the beneficiary of good health, no doubt, as he has played in 24 of the 25 games the Suns have played. But beyond that, he’s also managed to see the floor for 32.5 minutes per game, which is his highest mark since the 2015-16 NBA season while he was with Clippers.

The shocking thing is that Chris Paul started the season woefully slow, shooting 38.2% from the field through his first five games with the Phoenix Suns. He’s been red hot recently which has helped get his field goal percentage closer to his career average of 47.1% and he’s now shooting 48% on the season, including 34.8% from behind the line which is a shade below his career averages.

Whether he was going to be on Oklahoma City’s roster or on another roster (as I predicted to start the season was about a 50/50 chance to happen), the reason I was so high on Chris Paul is that he’s absolutely essential to whatever team he’s going to be on. There is no replacing him and it’s been a lot of fun to watch these middling teams in OKC and Phoenix grab the guy with the express intent of helping their young players grow and win some games immediately. Chris Paul has delivered and there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down in sight for the old man as the Suns are entirely sold on letting us all see playoff Devin Booker.

NBA fans are here for it, and the only risk is if the Suns keep on their winning ways. Sitting on a 16-9 record currently, if they look like a lock to make the playoffs getting CP3 some rest down the stretch with the hope that they can keep him fresh for the playoffs makes a lot of sense, especially given his injury history.

The key statistic to watch to see if Chris Paul can hang onto his elite fantasy ways or even get better? Steals. In a very un-CP3-like fashion, he put up a string of four games earlier this season with a goose egg in this statistical category. He then had back-to-back games on January 8th and January 9th with no steals as well. With an average of 2.2 steals per game in his career, we all knew that would get straightened out, and he’s recorded a steal in each of his last 14 games with an average of 1.6 steals over that span.

If you followed anyone here at Razzball, it was a clear buy low moment for Chris Paul for all of us, and if you managed to snag him before his recent run congratulations are in order. If not, that buy-low window has been slammed firmly shut.

1.6 steals per game is below his career average, so could CP3 be in line for more? Only time will tell, but if you own him I would hang on tight and enjoy the ride. If you can get him in a trade for someone that’s a 4th round value or worse, pull that trigger at will. The Suns are hungry for the playoffs to get their young guys experience, and they are one of the most fun teams to watch too!

In order for Chris Paul to solidify his spot among the greats, he at least needs to make the finals and the time is running out on that. It’s hard to see this Phoenix Suns team making it to the finals past the Los Angeles Lakers, even if they wind up getting to the Western Conference Finals, to begin with, but it’s a nice squad and anything can happen.