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Analytics Across Ages Pt. 2: Magic vs. CP3

“I’m at peace with myself. The main thing is not letting people dictate what I do or what I am.”

  • Magic Johnson


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Career Averages Per 100 Possessions in the Regular Season

Points Ass. RB Steals TO TS% PER WS VORP BPM
Magic 25.4 14.5 9.4 2.5 5.0 .610 24.1 11.98 5.95 7.2
CP3 27.5 14.6 6.4 3.4 3.6 .578 25.7 13.1 6.03 7.5

Career Averages Per 100 Possessions in the Playoffs

Points Ass. RB Steals TO TS% PER WS VORP BPM
Magic 23.9 15.1 9.5 2.3 4.5 .595 24.1 N/A N/A 7.4
CP3 29.1 13.0 6.5 3.1 3.8 .584 25.5 N/A N/A 8.1


You heard it here first: the best point guard in NBA History has some newfound competition in Chris Paul.

Many NBA fans will tell you about how Chris Paul is a “choker” in the playoffs, and yes, there’s been stretches where in the 4th quarter of games he failed to put up any points and only managed a few assists; but those are the statistical outliers.

The only time that one could say Chris Paul “choked” was in the New Orleans Hornets’ 2009 Playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.  He only averaged 22.1 points per 100 possessions, but more shocking was his 13.8 assists to an insane 6.4 turnovers. His field goal percentage was a .411 and his 3 point percentage was .313.  These are not the statistics of an all time great NBA player.

Meanwhile, his opponent, Denver Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups, was having the performance of his life, averaging 29.5 points, 9.2 assists, a .468 3 point percentage per 100 possessions, and a true shooting percentage of .664 over the course of the 2009 Playoffs.  For context, last year in the regular season, in what is considered  the greatest shooting season of all time, Stephen Curry averaged a true shooting percentage of .669.

Chauncey Billups was hot, and the Hornets were not: Tyson Chandler averaged only 8.5 points per 100 possessions, and David West’s field goal percentage hovered under .400.  The story of Chris Paul’s career has been that his teammates have never been able to step up around him in the Playoffs.  Chris Paul is only 8.5% of any given NBA roster, and 8.5% can only get you so far. 

When compared to Magic Johnson, Chris Paul’s individual performances outweigh those of his Lakers historical adversary.  Paul averages more points, more assists, more steals, less turnovers, and leads in all significant advanced metrics except true shooting.

In the Playoffs, Chris Paul’s career averages are 5 points higher, a steal higher, with only .009% difference between their true shooting statistics.  Even more compelling is his .7 higher BPM!

All that being said, Magic’s on court versatility translates to higher Playoff counting stats over the course of his  career – his assists and rebounds outperform Paul’s by 2.1 and 3 respectively.

Until Chris Paul gets a ring, it’s doubtful he’ll be appreciated for his greatness by the everyday NBA fan; even without a championship, Chris Paul can go toe-to-toe with Magic, a Top 10 Great and the greatest point guard ever, reminding us that even the greatest players can’t win on their own.

By Austin Hutchinson