Thursday , Dec , 29 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Chris Paul is phenomenal

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets rookie guard Chris Paul
has been everything that the team hoped he would be and more when they drafted
him with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City was very fortunate that the multi-talented Paul was
available for it to select with the fourth overall pick in the draft. The Wake
Forest product, who was the second point guard selected in the draft behind
Illinois Deron Williams, is arguably the best overall talent from that draft
class. He has great play-making ability, can score from anywhere on the court
and is an impact player who has brought excitement back to the fans of the
Hornets.

In his first 27 games as a pro, Paul has scored in double-digits 25 times and
has collected seven double-doubles for the Hornets, who won just 18 games in
the 2004-05 campaign and have picked up 12 victories in their first 27
contests this season.

The 6-0 Paul has been unbelievable his first season, and would have to be the
early favorite to take home Rookie of the Year honors. He has showed that he
is not afraid to drive to the hoop against the monsters of the NBA and has
also proved that he can hurt the Hornets’ opponents with his outside jumper.

He is shooting over 44 percent from the floor, 27 percent from beyond the arc
and just below 80 percent from the foul line. Paul has scored 20 or more
points eight times, but the Hornets are just 3-5 in those contests.

Paul leads New Orleans/Oklahoma City in scoring (16.7 ppg) and assists (7.3
apg). He is also third on the club in rebounding (6.0 rpg). One thing is for
sure, this former Demon Deacon can do it all.

The Hornets have been able to climb back to respectability simply because they
drafted Paul. They still need a dominant inside presence if they hope to
compete with the elite in the Western Conference, but Paul gives them a lead
guard who is going to keep getting better as he gains more experience.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City is still miles away from being in the same sentence
as teams like San Antonio and Dallas, but with Paul in the fold the Hornets
are headed in the right direction.

Forward David West has been a big surprise. He is second on the team in
scoring (16.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg). If the 25-year-old West can
continue to produce consistently, the Hornets have to like what the future
looks like with a lineup that consists of Paul and West in it.

It is quite obvious that Paul is the real deal, but West is still a question
mark. J.R. Smith and Desmond Mason are young, athletic and have an upside,
while veterans Speedy Claxton and P.J. Brown could fill valuable roles and
help Paul get the Hornets back into the postseason in the near future.

Bottom line, head coach Byron Scott know that he has a rookie sensation in
Paul and that he needs to work his game plans around the talented guard.

Andrew Bogut, who was selected by Milwaukee with the first overall pick in the
2005 draft, and Williams, who has been ok for the Jazz, have bright futures
ahead of them. However, Paul already plays like he has been playing in the
NBA for years.

The rookie Paul is a dynamic player. He brings the fans to their feet with
his unbelievable skills and has already helped the Hornets win games because
of his great ability. Paul is having a big impact on the league in his rookie
campaign.

It is worth it to buy a ticket to watch Paul play. He makes all of his
teammates better players, which already classifies him as a star.

Paul is a rookie phenom!

NOH