Chris Paul didn't exactly arrive into a League Of Point Guards. When drafted No. 4 overall by the New Orleans Hornets in 2005, the top point guards in the league were Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups and Tony Parker. They were excellent -- Nash was the reigning MVP -- but that was pretty much the depth chart at the position. Nash and Gilbert Arenas were the only two true point guards on the 2005 All-Star teams; Billups and Parker made it, as well, in 2006. It was largely a League Of Two-Guards And Big Men: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Shaq.
Now, every team seems to have a point guard they are gaga over. The debates over superiority are never-ending, and always compelling. There's Derrick Rose, the 2011 MVP, and Russell Westbrook, the second-best player on what looks to be a dynasty in the making. There's Rajon Rondo, the indescribable maelstrom of eccentric play. There's still Parker and, amazingly, Nash. There's Deron Williams, Ty Lawson, John Wall, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings. Fans love Jrue Holiday and Brandon Knight. It's a league replete with beautiful point guards.
And Chris Paul may be the best of all.
CP3 combines the best attributes of all the other point guards in his class. Like Nash, he's a deft passer, able to find the right option on the pick-and-roll almost every single possession. He makes careers with his passes, showcasing some of the best work Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic, David West and even Blake Griffin have ever done. Like Rose, he's a steady general on the court, fiercely leading his club into the fire with a never-resting intensity and focus. Like Westbrook, he's an aggressive scorer when needed to be, comfortable enough to jack up a three-pointer, to stop and pop and on the way to the rim, to drop a nasty crossover and fight for an and-1 in the lane. Like Rondo, he's a tough defender, a ballhawk extraordinaire who consistently rises to the top of the steals charts due to impossible quickness and an eye for the ball.
That's the power within Chris Paul: the power to be the best all point guards offer. That's what makes him an MVP candidate, what made him such an attractive target in trade talks in December and what makes him one of the best players for USA Basketball heading into the 2012 London Olympics. CP3 will likely join with Williams and Westbrook in London as Rose is recovering from an ACL tear. Isn't that amazing, that seven years after the 24-player NBA All-Star Game featured exactly two point guards, that Team USA can lose a recent MVP under the age of 25 and still have three brilliant point guards to lean on?
The other Olympic teams have solid players at the point, too, but CP3 will be the best starter in the tournament by no small margin. He has a tough job, divvying up shots between LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and others. But he's well-suited for the job, and the perfect man to lead Team USA to another gold medal.