The best sports debates are of the either/or variety.
Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle? LeBron James or Michael Jordan? Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr? Tom Brady or …. never mind.
An interesting contemporary discussion centers around two NBA players who are sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famers. Neither has won a championship, but are truly great players who play the same position, albeit in a completely different fashion.
Enough of the clues. Simply asked, which player has had the greater career? Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook.
Paul is the true definition of a floor general, his generation’s Isiah Thomas. Westbrook, the best athlete to ever play the position., is a veritable bundle of endless energy and fury. Paul is more jazz singer, while Westbrook is the hard-core rapper. Paul is passive-aggressive while Westbrook is aggressive-aggressive.
Their resumes are impressive.
Paul is an 11-time All-Star who has been voted 1st team All-NBA four times and 2nd team four times. In addition, CP3 has been All-Defensive 1st team seven times, 2nd team two times. To put a bow on it, Paul was the 2006 Rookie of the Year, has led the league in assists four times and steals six times. Paul is also 5th All-Time in career assists.
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Holy crap. Reading his resume at his Hall of Fame induction will last longer than the average filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, Westbrook takes a back seat to very few players in league history.
A 9-time All-Star and a two-time All-Star Game MVP, Westbrook has been All-League nine times, twice a first-team selection, five-time 2nd team, and two times 3rd team.
Westbrook has twice led the league in scoring and assists. I might be burying the lede. Westbrook was MVP in 2017 and has averaged, averaged a triple-double in four of the last five seasons. By season’s end, he will most likely pass the great Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles in league history. The Big “0” authored 181 triple-doubles in his illustrious career.
I now have carpal tunnel after typing the accomplishments of Paul and Westbrook.
The one flaw in each of their biographies is the lack of a championship. Paul has never made it to an NBA Finals while Westbrook has appeared in only one, nine years ago.
Not to make excuses, but to offer an explanation, both Paul and Westbrook have played in the Western Conference while Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and more recently, LeBron James have dominated the conference. Paul and Westbrook were traded for each other in the summer of 2019.
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Much to their chagrin, both have had separate stints playing alongside James Harden.
Paul’s best teammate not named James Harden has been … Blake Griffin or Devin Booker. Both All-Stars, but not all-timers.
Westbrook played with Kevin Durant for eight years and made one Finals, losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games in 2012.
While Westbrook does have a league MVP, Paul has finished top 7 in MVP voting eight times. Twice as many as Westbrook.
The fact that Paul has played with inferior players than Westbrook, does a better job of elevating the players around him, and is significantly better at the defensive end earns my vote for Chris Paul having a greater career than Russell Westbrook.
John Sapochetti is co-host of three podcasts heard on Full Press Radio:
-The Pick & Roll NBA Podcast With Jet & Sap
-The Sap & Kat Show
-The Get Off My Lawn Podcast With Keegan & Sap
Follow him on Twitter @JohnSap25
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