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Chris Paul carrying heavy workload to push Suns to wins

Should Monty monitor the Point God’s minutes? If he want’s to go fast, let him go fast.

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are 3-1 in their last four games since Chris Paul’s return following a hip injury he sustained on January 6 against the Miami Heat. The 37-year-old point guard has been a welcome sight for a team riddled with injuries throughout the 2022-23 NBA season.

Having the Point God back has not only added leadership on the court, it’s provided another consistent scoring threat, allowing Monty Williams to reset some of his guard rotations, and allowing (most of) the Phoenix wings to return to their roles. With top scorer Devin Booker and backup point guard Cameron Payne still out, there’s no one who can absorb scoring and facilitating when Paul takes the bench. Mikal Bridges has stepped up (more on him later today) but not enough to lead the Suns to wins without Paul’s brilliance this week.

Chris Paul has been in fine form, averaging 22.3 points on 55.6% shooting, including 43.5% from three-point range, and 10.8 assists. He’s looking like prime CP3.

It’s been a road to get back here for Paul. Prior to his 37th birthday, he was like Ricky Bobby of Talladega Nights fame. Ricky Bobby was unstoppable as he was racing around the Talladega racetrack at high speeds. If you ain’t first, you’re last. He pissed excellence. But then he got a little bit older. He crashed. And from that moment on, he wasn’t the same.

That’s how Chris Paul’s 37th birthday felt. Sure, he faced obstacles leading up to his birthday throughout his career, but it seemed as though Paul started a new phase of both his profession and his life when he blew out the candles on his cake and the smoke cleared.

He looked old. He looked slow. And let’s be real, he looked like he should eat a cheeseburger or two.

Chris Paul broke down in the playoffs and was one of many factors as to why the team was ousted early by the Dallas Mavericks in a historic Game 7 loss.

Prior to his hip injury in early January, this season, Paul played in 26 games, and averaged 31.1 minutes a game. He also averaged a career-low 13.1 points and 8.3 assists. It seemed as though Ricky Bobby left the racetrack and was driving out into the distance on 24th Street.

In the last four games since his return, however, we’ve seen a rejuvenated Chris Paul. He’s coming for you, Cal Naughton, Jr.!

My issue with Paul’s comeback is the number of minutes played. He’s averaging 35.7 minutes per game since his comeback, which can make some uneasy. This raises the simple question: should Monty Williams limit the minutes of Chris Paul for the remainder of the season, doing his best to keep him as fresh as possible for the postseason run?

I understand that you want to keep Chris Paul as fresh as possible. What he means to this team and how he can run the floor is vital to the success of the Suns. The fresher his legs are, the more pep in his step, the harder it is for the opposition to slow him down.

I don’t think a minutes restriction helps negate his effectiveness in the playoffs, however.

I don’t believe that minutes logged in January are going to affect Chris Paul in Game 3 of the First Round. What will affect him is that scheduling.

The postseason schedule is a grueling one. For the first two rounds, you literally play every other night. I don’t know who’s in charge of creating the postseason schedule, but they should allow Ricky Bobby to shake and bake that person out of a job.

We witnessed that on the last two postseason campaigns. Playing every other night will fatigue you, regardless of how many minutes you logged on January 28 against the San Antonio Spurs. When you’re older, like Paul, it takes longer for your body to recover.

Combine that with the fact that Monty Williams has no history of restricting Chris Paul’s minutes and Chris Paul has no history of wanting his minutes monitored, and I believe we have our answer.

We’ll continue to monitor the minutes, but should we? I truly don’t believe that it matters at this point. If Chris Paul wants to play, you let him play. He’s 37 years old for the love of God! He doesn’t wanna look back and feel like he missed an opportunity to help his team win, or to simply play basketball, because he was on a minutes restriction.

Shake and bake, baby.

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