Where does Chris Paul fit in with the Warriors?

Where does Chris Paul fit in with the Warriors?

The Golden State Warriors enter the 2023 NBA season looking for redemption for a disappointing run last year that ended with a whimper at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. This time last year, the biggest storyline in San Francisco was whether the Warriors could recover from the punch heard around the world to defend their championship. This season, the major storyline is how Golden State’s core will work with future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul.

CP3 in a Warriors uniform was something unimaginable up until it happened. He and Stephen Curry had been cast as rivals, especially when Paul was still in Los Angeles leading the Clippers. During this time, Curry made his rise up the ranks on the NBA totem pole, leaving CP3 in the rearview.

Paul has always been one of those players you love or can’t stand. That goes for other players as well. Just ask Draymond Green. When Golden State acquired CP3, Green was open about their past and how he wasn’t too fond of Paul. However, the real problem is that the two are more alike than different. In all likelihood, that was the real issue.

“A guy that’s at the center of everything. At the center of every play, the other team is running at the center of their defense.” Green explained. “Talking on both ends of the floor, working the referees, working our coach, and working players in the middle of every tussle. Battling. Elbowing. Nasty.”

One topic of discussion surrounding Paul as a Warrior that has persisted through the summer, into training camp/preseason, and still lingers on opening night is whether CP3 would start or come off the bench for Golden State. According to the latest report from Shams Charania of The Athletic, head coach Steve Kerr is leaning toward bringing Paul off the bench even with Green out due to an ankle injury.

Surely, CP3 would love to start on opening night, especially since they’ll be facing his former team, the Phoenix Suns. It’s wild how quickly things can change in the NBA, as it wasn’t too long ago that Paul led the Suns to within two games of winning an NBA championship. If Phoenix doesn’t bungle that 2-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks, we probably don’t see the trade that sent Paul from Phoenix to Washington (on paper), then Golden State.

Without Green on opening night against the three-headed monster of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal, the Warriors are in big trouble. Paul, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and others will need to step up big time to help Golden State start the season with a win. This can’t be a night where it’s all about Curry. All hands need to be on deck Tuesday night at Chase Center in San Francisco.

While Paul isn’t the player he was just a couple of years ago, one thing he should be able to help with is cutting down on turnovers, something Golden State has always been prone to. Even when they’ve won at a high clip, this team is usually way too casual with how they handle the rock. At their best, it’s been one of the few flaws easily recognized when watching them play. CP3 should also help defensively, especially in the steals department, even at his advanced age. Since 2020, Paul has been third among NBA players in steals.

Overall, most are waiting to see the chemistry between Paul and his new teammates. You have to wonder how Paul will adjust to not being “the man,” so to speak, and if he can fall in line on a team with a core group who have won four titles together. The most recent of which came less than 18 months ago. CP3 is a floor general and has always been able to dictate what happens on any team he’s played with as a pro.

This won’t be the dynamic on a team that built a dynasty long before Paul’s arrival. Should the Warriors have any chance at one more championship run, it’ll largely hinge on how well Paul adapts to his new role and if he can humble himself enough in the long run. If he struggles with this, he’ll be on the trade block again or settling into retirement. 

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.