As the 2023-24 NBA season draws near, Blue Man Hoop will focus on one aspect of potential improvement for every Warrior player.
If Chris Paul’s fit at the Golden State Warriors is to be an effective one, it will be dependant on the stylistic balance between both player and franchise. Each need to give a little and find a middle ground, subsequently allowing the team to get the best of a high-movement system combined with the 38-year-old’s methodical pick-and-roll offense.
That will be a difficult transition in which to manage and materialize productively. From Paul’s perspective, leaning into the Warrior style will be about being off the ball more than he ever has over a decorated 18-year career.
Everything will be heightened if Paul does start for Golden State come opening night, which has been reported much to the surprise of most. In the Warrior second-unit, the veteran point-guard will probably be able to play more at his style of pace. However, next to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Paul’s off-ball activity will be more important than ever.
There’s reason for optimism among Warrior fans based on what Paul did with the Phoenix Suns last season. In 2022-23, 55.1% of his three-point makes were assisted on, the highest percentage since his third year in the league and well above his career average of 43.3%.
Paul shot 37.5% from three-point range last season, a big improvement from the 31.7% the year prior. If he can’t maintain as slightly above league average, it will make things difficult for Steve Kerr and potential lineups that include two or three of Paul, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.
So, how does he ensure that the three-point percentage maintains at a similar rate to last season? How about more catch-and-shoot attempts from the corners? During his two-year stint with the Houston Rockets alongside James Harden, approximately 15% of all Paul’s three-point attempts came from the corners.
The 12-time All-Star made 42.1% of his corner three-point attempts last season. The only issue was that they made up just 7.3% of his overall attempts from beyond the arc. You’d expect that percentage to double back towards or above his Houston days.
It’s hard to envisage Paul cutting from the weak side towards the rim or sneaking in on backdoor plays. That’s never been his style, and at 38 you wouldn’t expect it to change even on the Warriors. It does make his catch-and-shoot opportunities even more pivotal though, particularly when teams sag off him to throw bodies at the likes of Curry and Thompson.