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Name a player blazing through the NBA on a two-year run of hitting almost 62% ATS Winners.
I’m talking about the VETERAN, Chris E. Paul the Third. I think that’s right...
Chris Paul teams are 61% (81-52-4) ATS the last two seasons.
Paul & Thunder went almost exactly 61% ATS last year.
Paul & the Suns have also gone almost exactly 61% ATS this season.
But why? Why so consistently underrated by the betting market?
For one thing, the most underrated stat on a player-analysis level is probably turnovers.
And Paul? Well, Paul averages only 2.1 turnovers per game.
Results: #1 Michael Jordan, 97 games and #2, Kobe Bryant, 60 games. The next highest is Shaq with 31, basically half as many. (Sixth on the list is Anthony Davis with 27 (the Chicago kid, who returns tonight!)
Ever wonder why Kevin Durant has MJ #1 and Kobe #2 ALL-TIME - and nobody else in the conversation?
Simply put, their games are immaculate.
You could go to those two guys every single time, and they wouldn’t get flustered. They’d also get good shots, every single time, either for themselves or somebody and whether it was early or late in the shot clock. Worst case scenario? They’d get SHOT!’ SHOT!’s, meaning ‘As soon as it touches my hand I’m firing.’
That’s pretty clear advice for a teammate - and useful!
Very few turnovers going the other way when you can get a jumper up on the rim 100% of the time and not turn the ball over. This is why Chris Paul wins. The 16 points and 8.8 assists per game? Really not all that special (paging Mark Jackson), but it's valuable to whoever gets the assist - the shot - and Chris Paul teams get good shots. This year, most of those shots are for Kobe disciple Devin Booker, who gets up SHOT!s with the best of ’em. But it really doesn’t matter who shoots. Teams must get shots up to win.
Chris Paul has an O/U player prop for turnovers tonight of over/under 2.5 (the over is +150, the under is -210), as the Phoenix Suns travel to take on the Boston Celtics. Paul has gone under this total in 11 out of his last 12, and in seven of his last eight games he's had either 0 or 1 turnovers. Pretty good, right?
Worthy of -210 bet on the Under? Maybe.
For the season, the more data we have the better.
And this number looks right, as in 38 out of 57 games played this season, Paul has had two or fewer turnovers. That’s exactly 67%. (Well, not exactly - but you know what I mean, commensurate with -210).
I don’t love it though - on the second night of a back-to-back and in a very competitively priced game at Boston, Marcus Smart’s 1.5 steals per game looms large. Paul, on the other hand, is worth five points to the line (theoretically) and four points due to his raw ability alone. That ranks as the 10th most valuable player in the NBA right now, as you can see below in a snapshot of my "NBA Top 25 Player Ratings."
(For these player ratings, I assign one additional point due to the signal it sends to the market, and also to me)
You might say after reading all this that, well, if Paul is hitting 61% ATS then isn’t he also the most valuable player in the league? After all, nobody else has posted those gaudy ATS numbers for the 2021 season.
But it's not that simple.
For one thing, the work ethic and drive he instills in his teammates does not simply disappear when he sits or isn't on the floor. Secondly, spread margin will tell you the distance between what the market expected and what actually happened. Kawhi Leonard is supposed to win a lot of games - historically, he actually has the number one overall winning percentage in NBA History, even edging the legendary Bill Russell.
But it’s easy to point to scoring and even defense - and say why that is succeeding. It’s harder to pinpoint a simple chest pass ("chess pass?") as the deciding factor. I said this same thing on twitter while talking about the Mac Jones/Trey Lance debate - making 80% decisions correctly is not impressive.
Making 80% decisions 15 time in a row, though? Now that's championship quality.
Very much, this also the case here - if not more so - in the sport of basketball.
All sports IMHO boils down to single moments (many moments, but also individual moments) where a player is in front of you - a goalie, a pitcher, a defender, a linebacker - and the questions are simple:
A. )Does he know what you’re going to do?
B.) Can he stop it?
Very rarely is it the case that a player is simply unstoppable. Remember, Shaq shot 60%, not 80 or 100.
Reading that situation is everything.