The Chris Paul Effect: Franchise Records Follow Him Wherever He Plays

With Phoenix’s 121-110 victory over the Lakers on Tuesday, Suns guard Chris Paul became the first player in NBA history on four teams to set a franchise record for single-season wins. .

  • 2007-08: New Orleans Hornets | 56-26
  • 2013-14: LA Clippers | 57-25
  • 2017-18: Houston Rockets | 65-17
  • 2021-22: Phoenix Suns | 63-16


New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (2005-11)

Chris Paul averaged 21.1 points and 11.6 assists in the 2007-08 season at New Orleans.

The Hornets won 18 franchise games in 2004-05 – tied for the second-worst record in the NBA at 18-64. When the coin toss came around, the Hornets were passed by Milwaukee and Portland and ended up with the fourth pick overall. The Bucks took center Andrew Bogut with the first selection; the Hawks followed by attacking Marvin Williams. Utah was next (after acquiring Portland’s pick in a draft-day trade) and selected point guard Deron Williams. The Hornets then selected the other elite point guard prospect in the draft class, Wake Forest product Chris Paul.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the Hornets temporarily moved to Oklahoma City for the ’05-06 and ’06-07 seasons, just as Paul was beginning his NBA career. He made an immediate impact, averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 assists and 5.1 rebounds to earn Rookie of the Year honors. The Hornets made a 20-win improvement in Paul’s rookie season, finishing with a 38-44 record, moving from dead last in the Western Conference to 10and location. The team’s offensive rating went from 98.2 (30th) before Paul’s arrival to 102.3 (26th) in his rookie season.

Season Team O I W Increase Excluding Rtg Def Rtg net network
2004-05 (before CP3) New Orleans Hornets/OKC 18 64 98.2 105.9 -7.7
2005-06 (CP3 rookie year) New Orleans Hornets/OKC 38 44 20 102.3 105.1 -2.8
2006-07 New Orleans Hornets/OKC 39 43 1 103.7 105.4 -1.6
2007-08 (record wins) New Orleans Hornets 56 26 17 110.0 104.4 5.6

The team made only incremental improvement in Paul’s second season as he missed 18 games through injury. The Hornets finished the season in 10and place in the West for the second consecutive season.

The Hornets returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007-08 season – Paul’s third season in the NBA – and gave New Orleans fans something to cheer about as the city continued its rise after the destruction of Katrina. The Hornets not only made the playoffs for the first time in four years, they finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference at 56-26. This mark was not only the young franchise’s best since entering the NBA in 2002, it remains the standard nearly 15 years later.

That season, Paul led the NBA in assists and steals for the first time, earning his first All-Star selection (he now has 12), his first All-NBA selection (he now has four team selections first and 10 total selections), his first All-Defensive selection (he now has seven first-team selections and nine total selections). He became the league leader in assists four times and steals six times – ranking in the top four in both categories all-time. The Hornets’ season ended in the Western Conference Semifinals, where they were eliminated by San Antonio in seven games.



LA Clippers (2011-17)

The Clippers set a new franchise record for winning percentage in each of Paul’s first three seasons with the team.

Paul played three more seasons in New Orleans before being traded to the LA Clippers ahead of the 11-12 season, ushering in the Lob City era for the Clippers alongside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers went 32-50 the previous year, finishing 13and in the West during Griffin’s rookie season.

During Paul’s first three seasons in Los Angeles, Paul led the Clippers to a franchise-best winning percentage each year, starting with the shortened 66-game season in 2011-12 as the Clippers finished 40- 26 – an improvement of eight wins… in 16 fewer games. The Clippers went from 22nd in the NBAn/a-Offense ranked in (104.8) in Paul’s first season (107.5). The Clippers made the playoffs for the first time since ’05-06 (and only the second time since ’97-98), a run that was also ended by San Antonio in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Season Team O I W Increase Excluding Rtg Def Rtg net network
2010-11 (before CP3) LA Clippers 32 50 104.8 108.0 -3.2
2011-12 (1st year CP3) LA Clippers 40 26 8 107.5 104.8 2.7
2012-13 LA Clippers 56 26 16 109.8 102.8 6.9
2013-14 (record wins) LA Clippers 57 25 1 111.3 104.0 7.3

With the NBA returning to a full 82-game schedule in 2012-13, Paul and the Clippers won a franchise-record 56 games, finishing fourth in the Western Conference. The Clippers have the league’s fourth-highest offense (109.8), eighth-highest defense (102.8) and a third-best net rating (6.9). However, their regular season success did not carry over into the playoffs, as the No. 4 Clippers were eliminated by No. 5 Memphis in the first round.

The following season, Paul and the Clippers continued their streak and finished with a franchise-record 57 wins – a mark that still stands – in Paul’s third season with the team (just as he did at New Orleans). The Clippers finished third in the West and led the NBA in offensive efficiency for the first time (111.3 points per 100 possessions), while posting the league’s second-best net rating (7.3), behind only the eventual Spurs champion. Paul led the NBA in assists for the third time in his career and led the league in steals for the fifth time as he was named to the All-NBA and All-Defensive First Teams. In the playoffs, the Clippers beat Golden State in seven games in the first round before losing to Oklahoma City in six games in the Western Conference Semifinals.



Houston Rockets (2017-19)

The Rockets posted the NBA’s best record (65-17) in Paul’s first season with James Harden in Houston.

Paul’s six-year run with the Clippers ended after the 2016-17 season; he was traded to the Houston Rockets before his 13and league season. The move to Houston presented Paul with a very different situation than he faced in New Orleans and Los Angeles: the Hornets had won only 18 games the previous season; the Clippers only 32. This Houston team had won more games (55) than these two teams combined (50).

The Rockets had finished third in the Western Conference, ranked second in offensive efficiency (114.1) and third in net efficiency (5.7) and reached the Western Conference Semifinals before being ousted. by… San Antonio.

Paul had taken lottery teams and turned them into perennial playoff teams, but this was the first time he had joined a playoff team and sought to make them title contenders. A 10-win improvement later, the Rockets 65-17 had posted the best record in the NBA. Not only did the Rockets finish with the league’s best offense (114.1), seventh-ranked defense (105.7) and best net rating (8.4), but they also set a franchise record in victories that still stands.

Season Team O I W Increase Excluding Rtg Def Rtg net network
2016-17 (before CP3) Houston Rockets 55 27 X 114.1 108.4 5.7
2017-18 (CP3 1st year + win record) Houston Rockets 65 17 ten 114.1 105.7 8.4

A team has won at least 65 games just 21 times in the 75-year history of the NBA, and no team has done so since the 17-18 Rockets. But (spoiler alert!) that could change by the end of the week.

Houston’s championship aspirations were dashed by the Golden State Warriors juggernaut, who beat the Rockets in seven games in an epic Western Conference Finals. Paul played one more season in Houston before being traded to Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook. Although the Thunder fell short of a franchise record for wins in Paul’s only season with the franchise, he mentored OKC’s fledgling roster and helped them finish fifth in the West. at 44-28.



Phoenix Suns (2020-21 to present)

The Suns reached the NBA Finals in Paul’s first season and set a franchise record for wins in his second.

The Phoenix Suns traded for the veteran point guard after the Bubbles season in 2019-20, and the turnaround began in Orlando. Phoenix went a perfect 8-0 in seeding games as they battled to earn a playoff berth. While their undefeated record wasn’t enough to lift them into the playoff pack, it did lay the foundation for future success.

The addition of Paul this offseason added fuel to an already simmering fire. Paired with Devin Booker in the backcourt and pushing young center Deandre Ayton to reach his full potential, Paul proved to be a perfect complement to head coach Monty Williams – who coached Paul in New Orleans – in as the proverbial coach on the floor for this young team.

Season Team O I W Increase Excluding Rtg Def Rtg net network
2019-20 (before CP3) Phoenix Suns 34 39 111.3 110.8 0.5
2020-21 (1st year CP3) Phoenix Suns 51 21 17 116.3 110.4 5.9
2021-22 (win record) Phoenix Suns 63 17 12 (2 games remaining) 114.5 106.6 7.8

In Paul’s first season in Phoenix, the team posted a 17-win improvement and major leaps on both sides of the ball. The Suns offense went from 12th (111.3) to 7th (116.4) and their defense went from 17th (110.8) to 6th (110.4). Phoenix not only secured the playoff spot it just missed out on in the bubble, but also finished second in the Western Conference. The Suns advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993, though their championship dreams were dashed by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

Yet Phoenix didn’t just run in 2021-22, they’ve been the best team in the NBA since the jump. They enter Friday’s game against the Jazz (8:30 a.m. ET, NBA TV) with a league-best 63-17 record. The Suns clinched the league’s best record on March 24, in Paul’s first game after missing a month (and 15 games) with a broken thumb.

Paul is set to lead the NBA in assists for the fifth time; his 10.7 assists per game is his best mark since the 13-14 season in Los Angeles. Paul will join Steve Nash (11.4 apg in ’10-11, 10.7 apg in ’11-12) and LeBron James (10.2 apg in ’19-20) as the only players to average assists decisive double digits in their 15and season or later.

The only notable missing piece from Paul’s resume — and the Suns’ resume as well — is an NBA championship. By winning a franchise-record 63 games, with two more to play, the Suns positioned themselves to make a run for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

About Christian M.

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