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Deciding who you'd rather build a team around is much different than choosing who the best player is. Much more than just stats come into play. Age, leadership abilities, defensive presence, and potential must be considered as well, which is what makes this particular 'would you rather' so difficult. Because while Chris Paul is the better player as of now, the potential of Terry Rozier makes him an enticing option. Also because Chris Paul may not have as big of a current advantage as you think.


It's difficult to compare the two's play during the regular season. Chris Paul started 58 games for the 65-win Houston Rockets, while Rozier came off of the bench for most of the season, ceding starting duties to All-Star Kyrie Irving. When the season was all said and done, Rozier started 16 games for the Boston Celtics.

Their regular season stats as starters:

CP3: 18.6 points/5.4 rebounds/7.9 assists/.460 FG%/.380 3pt%
TRo: 15.6 points/6.4 rebounds/5.1 assists/.381 FG%/.389 3pt%

Chris Paul leads the way after this consideration, but during the 2018 playoffs, T-Ro has turned it up! Their stats are tight, making this debate more difficult than originally appears to the eye.

Their playoff stats:

CP3: 32.5 minutes/18.8 points/4.5 rebounds/6.0 assists/.460 FG%/.311 3pt%/2.3 TOs
TRo: 36.1 minutes/19.1 points/5.0 rebounds/6.9 assists/.441 FG%/.438 3pt%/0.8 TOs

Now, things get interesting.

It needs to be noted that Terry has played 3.6 more minutes per game than Paul, so he's had more time to accumulate numbers, but the efficiency stats; field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and turnovers, justify his play.

Their numbers throughout these playoffs are nearly identical, but Terry takes the cake in a few spots that I think tell a story.

For one, Terry is out-diming the league's 4-time Assist Leader by nearly an entire assist. This surprises me, for one, because Paul has James Harden on his team, who is averaging 31.0 points per game in the playoffs, while jacking over 22 shots. How many times have we seen Paul kick it out for a Harden three-pointer. Per Sporting News, the two play about 20 minutes together per night.

Secondly, Chris Paul plays about 12 minutes with the second unit per game, when Harden is resting on the bench. In these situations, he's running the floor as the team's primary option, like he had his entire career before joining the Rockets, so he can work the offensive magic that he always has.



Terry Rozier, on the other hand, is playing much more team-oriented ball, where everyone on the roster is contributing at near equal amounts. Rozier is one of the team's five main pieces, unlike Paul, who is clearly one in a dynamic-duo situation. Terry is sharing the ball with a few veterans, but mostly young guys with very little NBA experience. I guess that's a tribute to the Celtics as a team, and not necessarily Terry's passing ability, as most of the core is shooting in the .400s from the field.

Jaylen Brown: 17.3 points on .462 shooting
Jayson Tatum: 17.4 points on .462 shooting
Al Horford: 18.4 points on .614 shooting
Marcus Morris: 12.8 points on .390 shooting

Another fun-assists-fact: Terry has made 8 or more dimes in these playoffs 5 times. Chris Paul only has twice.

Terry also has a significantly higher three-point percentage when compared to Paul: .438 vs. .311. This stat in particular can be seen in individual games. In Game 7 over the Milwaukee Bucks, Terry hit 5-of-8 attempted threes. In the next game, Game 1 versus the Philadelphia 76ers, he hit 7-of-9 from deep, and in Game 2 he hit another 4 long-range jumpers.

Chris Paul's three-point shooting can be seen to prove the opposite effect. In Game 1 versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. he went 1-for-6 from deep. In Game 5, he went 0-fer, missing all 8 of his attempts. And just last night, in the Rockets' Game 3 victory over the Utah Jazz, he went 1-for-7 from behind the arc. Paul hasn't made more than 3 three-pointers in a game in these playoffs.

Terry Rozier is leaps and bounds above CP3 when it comes to turnovers as well: 0.8 vs. 2.3 per game.

Now, when it comes to scoring, the two are averaging very similar numbers, but again, the individual game stats tell revealing stories. Like this one: Terry has scored 20 or more points in five games of the Cs' 9 total games this postseason. Chris Paul has scored 20 or more only twice in the Rockets' 8 total playoff games.

Terry has the upper-hand in closeout games as well. In the Rockets' Game 5 victory to close-out their series agains the Wolves, Paul went for 12/5/9, 0-for-8 from deep, and didn't attempt one free throw.

In Game 7 over the Bucks, TRo scored 26 points to go along with 6 rebounds, and 9 assists. He shot .625 from both the floor and from three.

And finally, we can look at the two's most current series. Terry has been lights out versus the Sixers. He's averaging 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and is shooting .506 from the field and .611 from three-point range. He's also shooting 1.000 from the free-throw line, making him a member of the series's .500/.400/.900 club. Those are freaking Playoff MVP-type numbers.

Paul on the other hand, is averaging 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, .424 FG%, and .348 3pt%. These are great numbers, but when compared to Rozier's, they look like they came from a G-Leaguer. This debate isn't really a knock at CP3's playoff play, but instead is a salute to how ridiculous TRo has played.

But to get back to the title of this post, 'who would you rather build a team around,' we have to look at more than just stats. Chris Paul has experience that Terry won't have for nearly a decade. He's been to the playoffs ten times compared to Terry's three, and has put up at least 16 points per postseason. He's averaging 21.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 9.1 assists in his playoff career.

Terry, however, is much younger and therefore will be able to play much longer than CP3 will. Paul is nearing the end of his prime at 32 years old. I still think that he'll be able to play at an elite level for 3 or 4 more seasons. He's had a mostly major-injury-free career, playing less than 60 regular season games only twice, and playing over 70 games 7 times in 13 seasons.

Terry is now 24 years old, and still has much improving to do in the years to come, but I doubt that he will ever be as good as Chris Paul. It is surely too early to say, but I mean, Paul is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, undoubtedly. He's a 9x All-Star, 4x All-First Team, 3x All-Second Team, 7x All-Defensive First Team, 6x Steals Leader, and as previously mentioned, 4x Assist Leader. It's a resume that only very few can compete with. Terry will need to become one of the GOATs to develop into a player as good as Chris Paul is.

Terry already is being put into the same conversation as some greats, though.

Defense must also be considered, and again, it'll be difficult for Terry to ever be the defender that Chris Paul is. In these playoffs, the Rockets have allowed 4 less points when CP3 is on the floor than the Celtics have when Terry is. Their defensive ratings are 104.4 for CP3 and 108.4 for Terry. Paul is also averaging over 1 more steal than Terry in the postseason: 2.3 vs. 1.2 steal per game.

So, after all of this has been considered: who do you choose to build a team around? The already established, future Hall of Famer in his prime, or the young and exciting third-year player who is just now giving a glimpse of what his potential could be. Chris Paul gives you edge for the next few years, but Terry could develop into an All-Star and team leader for the foreseeable future. Keyword: could. It's a tough choice that I'm going to leave up to our readers.

But I'll leave this here before you decide.

Game 3 of Celtics vs Sixers is on in just a few hours. Let's go Celtics!

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Photo: USA Today

Sean Waukewan 5/05/2018 03:43:00 PM Edit
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