On 11 occasions last season, Chris Paul failed to produce turnovers. He was at fault just once in 16 other games as a member of the Phoenix Suns. The exact possession is a symbol of his 18-year NBA career, and is eligible for a gold award.
That history is why Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn’t sweating the uncharacteristic number of gifts Paul has given his opponents in the first two preseason games with his new teammates.
Paul played 20 minutes on Friday night, tallying five turnovers in a 129-125 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena.
“He really takes it all in, and we’re very lucky to have him because we need his organizational skills,” Kerr told reporters in Los Angeles. “We have talked a lot about reducing our turnover, and it will help us significantly.
“I know he had some [turnovers] Tonight, but I’m not worried about that. He has one of the best career assist-to-turnover ratios of any point guard.
Best according to StatMuse. Paul’s 3.98 assists-to-turnover ratio is No. 1 on the all-time list among point guards with at least 1,000 games played, indicating he is the most reliable ball-handler in the NBA.
However, the man sometimes referred to as the “Point God” also committed two turnovers in 13 minutes in his Golden State debut on Oct. 7.
Seven turnovers in 33 minutes is usually a cause for concern for a coach. But the circumstances must be taken into account.
“It seems like he’s really trying to fit in with everything we’re doing,” Kerr said. “And it’s a little different than some of the offenses he’s had the last few years. Obviously we’re playing a little faster, with a little more movement. He’s off the ball sometimes. He’s used to it.”
“But he is such an intelligent player that it is very easy to adapt to him.”
Here’s a breakdown of Paul’s transformations:
Trading No. 1: Offensive foul, 9:00 left in the first half. Head official Brian Forte whistled him for being too aggressive in trying to prevent Lakers guard Austin Reeves from stealing a pass at half court.
Trading No. 2: Bad pass, 8:39 remaining in the first half. While trying to connect with Stephen Curry coming off a screen near the half-court circle, Paul misjudged Curry’s momentum and the pass sailed a few inches wide and out of bounds. Paul’s response was the obligatory “bad” chest tap.
Trading No. 3: Bad pass, 8:57 left in third quarter. Seeing Andrew Wiggins nearly tied up along the sideline, Paul tried to squeeze a pass from Rui Hachimura. Easy steal for the Lakers forward.
TRotation No. 4: Bad pass, 6:01 left in third. Seeing Dario Saric near the sideline — with more space than Wiggins — Paul attempted a 15-foot chest pass, but Reeves, who was scrambling to get to Saric, caught his hand and swung it to himself. He steals.
Trading No. 5: Bad pass, 5:23 remaining in the third period. Coming out of the paint after receiving a pass from Curry, Paul tried to lob the ball around 6-foot-11 Jackson Hayes in hopes that Wiggins could cut it off as he crossed the middle of the court. No chance. The pass was wide right and went out of bounds at the other end. Paul became very nice.
There have been times throughout Paul’s career where he has gone entire weeks without throwing four bad passes. In this case, two of the four were live ball turnovers that led to Los Angeles’ turnovers.
These are the kind of giveaways that Kerr despises, and they would generate an even more emphatic reaction if this were a regular-season game in January.
These preseason games serve as an adjustment period for Paul. Learn about your teammates’ tendencies and how best to read beats.
“I think now it’s about getting enough repetitions with other players to feel that movement and feel the difference in the patterns we’re running,” Kerr said.
“But he’s just one of the smartest players I’ve ever known. He’s so intent and purposeful on every possession. He knows the game so well. It’s really exciting to have him with us, and I think he’s only going to get better and better.”
Paul, 38, is slower than he was 10 years ago, or even five years ago. But he is still a master of real-time analysis. Kerr trusts history. That’s what warriors are. Seems fair.
The first two preseason games aren’t representative of Paul’s character, and it’s not unreasonable to believe they will be. He has weeks and months to settle in and see if he’s still the same.
“Beer enthusiast. Subtly charming alcohol junkie. Wannabe internet buff. Typical pop culture lover.”