Whenever I’ve written about Chris Paul being an elite point guard, someone will write:
How can he be elite if he has never reached even the conference finals?
That internet commenter might be Ty Lawson.
“I don’t think you’ve ever seen so many good point guards in one conference at one time in the league ever,” Lawson told Yahoo Sports. “But you’ve got to win. If you want to be an elite PG in this league, you’ve got to win. You’ve got to be in the conference finals, the NBA Finals. If you’re not winning, you’ll always be a second-tier, or third-tier point guard.”
Lawson doesn’t name Paul, and I’m not even sure Lawson realized his criteria for being elite eliminated Paul.
But that’s part of the reason it’s such a dumb argument.
Playoff success is a team accomplishment. Sure, it’s influenced by individuals. But, as good as Paul is, he can’t singlehandedly take a team to the conference finals – especially not in the loaded Western Conference.
Paul’s résumé would be more impressive if he’d had more playoff success, but a lack of it doesn’t invalidate his other accomplishments. I’m not sure how anyone could watch Paul play repeatedly and not think he’s elite.