When you’re in the late stages of your career, every milestone means that much more.
Now Chris Paul can celebrate the fact that he starred long enough to tally 11,000 career assists — behind only Jason Kidd (12,091) and John Stockton (15,806).
“I’ve been fortunate to play for a while now with a lot of great shooters, great players in general,’’ he said to ESPN after the game, ticking off such names as David West, Peja Stojakovic and now Booker. “I’m privileged.’’
He’s not just a passer, though. Paul is also the only player in NBA history to tally 20,000 points and 10,000 assists. Neither Kidd nor Stockton can make that claim, and nor can anyone else in the league’s 75-year history.
Paul got his 11,000th assist on an alley-oop to Deandre Ayton in the first quarter of the Suns’ easy victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in LA’s home opener. The Phoenix Suns are now 2-1 on the season, having played a trio of teams (Dallas, Portland and LA) that are 5-0 against the rest of the league so far.
That assist came in front of family came in front of family and friends, in an arena where he starred for 6 of his 18 seasons.
Chris Paul notched his 11,000th assist in his 1,158th game, for a career average of 9.5 assists per game over an 18-year career. Last year, Paul was named one of the NBA’s best 75 players of its first 75 years as a league.
Paul is now entering his third year with the Suns. He led the league in assists per game last season (10.5), made his 12th All-Star game and 11th All-NBA team, and has helped the Suns win more games — playoffs plus regular season — than any other NBA team since joining the franchise.
But he’s 37 years old now and, as someone once said, if he isn’t washed yet he’s at least standing next to a full tub. The jumper is not dropping quite as easily and he’s moving at more of a snail’s pace — at least so far — than ever. The Suns are 24th in pace this season compared to 9th last year. But he’s still crafty as ever, averaging 10.7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2.7 steals despite scoring only 8 points a night on 32% shooting.