Should the New Orleans Pelicans pursue Chris Paul?

Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns. Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns. Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

If you haven’t already heard, Bradley Beal is a member of the Phoenix Suns. And as a result, Chris Paul is now a member of the Washington Wizards – for now, at least.

We say “for now” because it is highly unlikely that the now-rebuilding Wizards hold on to the 38-year-old Paul, who is still looking for his first NBA title. And while the Wizards are currently looking for a third team to re-route Paul to, there is also a chance that he could just get waived and end up a free agent.

In either case, the question for fans of the New Orleans Pelicans now becomes: should they pursue Paul in free agency?

For the sake of simplicity, we are going to avoid discussing the salary cap ramifications of bringing Paul in, as the situation around his finances is a bit confusing right now. He’s currently owed 30.8 million dollars next season if he’s on a roster without being waived after June 28th, but it seems unlikely that, based off his current production, any team would be willing to pay him that full amount.

Anyway, as we have with all the posts of this nature that we’ve done, we need to ask ourselves: can Paul help address any of this team’s three biggest weaknesses? As a reminder, those three weaknesses are shooting/spacing, rim pressure outside of Zion Williamson, and rim protection.

At 6’0 tall, with a career block percentage of 0.4%, that last component (rim protection) is likely off the table for Paul here.

That second area (rim pressure outside of Williamson) also isn’t something Paul can really provide at this point in time. Despite starting off his career as a monster attacker early in his career, he’s tailed off in this area quite considerably. According to Cleaning the Glass, Paul has finished in the 2nd percentile or lower in rim frequency for his position in each of the last five seasons.

This leaves us with one last area he could try and address: shooting/spacing. For his career, Paul is a 36.9% 3-point shooter, and last season he converted on 37.5% of his triples for the Suns. And according to the Thinking Basketball database, he’s shot 45% on wide-open threes over the last three seasons (91st percentile).

The problem with using Paul as a spacer is he is more of a spot-up marksman than a movement maestro, so his ceiling as a pure spacer is a bit limited. And if the only weakness he can address is shooting/spacing, the Pelicans may be better served to find someone who has more shooting versatility (like Malik Beasley).

However, if the Pelicans were to move off of CJ McCollum, Paul could prove to be a nice replacement for their veteran two-guard. At this point in time, he’s not as good of a scorer as him. But he’s arguably just as good of a spacer (McCollum also hit 45% of his wide-open threes in the last three seasons) and also a markedly better floor general than him (he is “The Point God,” after all).

Overall, while a Paul/New Orleans reunion would be a fun full-circle moment, it wouldn’t make much sense unless some other parts shifted on this current iteration of the roster.

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