Chris Paul has taken quite the journey to his first-ever NBA Finals.
Selected with the No. 4 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Paul has played for five different franchises in his 16-year career. He got his start with the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, followed by the LA Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and now Phoenix Suns.
Along the way, Paul has shared the court with a lot of different teammates. You can find the full list here.
With that in mind, two members of our NBA.com Staff held a fantasy draft featuring Paul's teammates, from David West and Tyson Chandler in New Orleans to Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton in Phoenix.
- 40 games was the cutoff, eliminating the likes of Grant Hill, Danny Granger, Josh Smith and Nick Young
- We picked a starting five, plus a sixth man and a head coach
- We got who the player was when they were teammates with Paul, not necessarily who they were at their peak
- We started the draft by choosing which version of Paul we wanted to lead our team
Got it? Great. Now onto the results...
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles) got the No. 1 pick, leaving Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_) with the No. 2 pick.
We did a snake draft, so the order flipped after each round.
1. Chris Paul (2007-08) - Team Rafferty
2. Chris Paul (2008-09) - Team Irving
3. James Harden, Houston Rockets - Team Irving
4. Blake Griffin, LA Clippers - Team Rafferty
5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns - Team Rafferty
6. David West, New Orleans Hornets - Team Irving
7. DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers - Team Irving
8. Tyson Chandler, New Orleans Hornets - Team Rafferty
9. Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns - Team Rafferty
10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder - Team Irving
11. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns - Team Irving
12. Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder - Team Rafferty
1. Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns - Team Rafferty
2. Doc Rivers, LA Clippers - Team Irving
PG: Chris Paul (2007-08)
SG: Devin Booker
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Blake Griffin
C: Tyson Chandler
Sixth man: Luguentz Dort
Head coach: Monty Williams
Which version of Chris Paul I was going to select with the No. 1 pick was a pretty easy decision.
In 2007-08, Paul averaged 21.1 points to go along with 11.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game, both of which led the league. He led the Hornets to a 56-26 record that season, earning his first All-Star, All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive Second Team selection along the way. He also finished second in MVP voting behind Kobe Bryant.
Paul then averaged 24.1 points, 11.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game in the playoffs. The Hornets defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the first round before losing in seven games to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round.
Need you be reminded:
At shooting guard, I went with Booker, who has fit in like a glove next to Paul in Phoenix. Between Paul and Booker, I have all the playmaking I need. Mikal Bridges rounds out my backcourt, giving me one of the league's best perimeter defenders, as well as a knockdown 3-point shooter.
I don't think I need to explain the decision to select Griffin. They may have had their differences, but Paul and Griffin made for one of the league's best one-two punches during their time in Los Angeles together.
Who to go with at center was perhaps the trickiest one - apologies to Clint Capela and Deandre Ayton, both of whom I strongly considered - but it's hard to second-guess Chandler. While I'm getting him before he was a Defensive Player of the Year, he was still a strong defender, a tremendous rebounder and a big-time lob threat early in his career.
Last but not least, I went with Dort because, well, I'm going to need someone to slow down Harden.
With Williams pulling the strings, this team is tough.
PG: Chris Paul (2008-09)
SG: James Harden
SF: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
PF: David West
C: DeAndre Jordan
Sixth man: Deandre Ayton
Head coach: Doc Rivers
Having second pick at all Chris Pauls in NBA history, I'm not going to be mad about getting the 2008-09 version. That season, Paul averaged a career-high 22.8 points per game to go with a league-leading 11.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game (which was also a career-high).
With the first crack at every teammate he's ever had, it felt like Harden was a no-brainer for obvious reasons. From there, the decisions got much tougher.
I was hoping either Booker or Griffin would slip through the cracks, but when Scott snagged both of those stars, I elected to fill out my frontcourt. People forget how incredible West was during his time with CP3 and the Hornets, a two-time All-Star who averaged over 20 points and eight rebounds per game in consecutive seasons.
As for the center position, I had first choice at Jordan, Ayton, Chandler or Capela, and bringing back Lob City felt like the only option. Jordan was a monster during his time with Paul and the Clippers, averaging a double-double for five-straight seasons while also leading the league in rebounds twice and field goal percentage six-straight years.
Being on the receiving end of CP3 lobs is an effective way to boost your field goal percentage...
In need of help on the wing, Gilgeous-Alexander fit a need and also gives me a more high-powered version of the three-guard offence we saw during CP3's time with Shai and Dennis Schroder in Oklahoma City with Paul, Harden and SGA.
Lastly, for Sixth Man, I elected to take the best player available as opposed to filling a void. While players like Peja Stojakovic, Trevor Ariza or JJ Redick would have made more sense, I simply couldn't leave Ayton on the board. After the breakout postseason he has had to help lead the Suns to the NBA Finals, it would have been disrespectful to ignore that just to add another wing.
And with that being said, going with Doc Rivers as the head coach made more sense than, say, Mike D'Antoni, because there's too much size for a run-and-gun, 3-point shooting-heavy offence.
I'd be interested to see how this team actually gelled together, but I'm sure the Point God could make it work.
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