Chris Paul, Meet Alex Ovechkin?

The Clippers ended their glorious and horrendous self-destruction yesterday with a lifeless performance in game 7 against the Houston Rockets.  The Clippers were up 3-1 in the series but lost the last three (two on the road) to lose the series.  They had won game 1 in Houston and games 3 and 4 at home; they looked as if they were unbeatable and also had a real possibility of a conference final appearance or even an NBA title.  Most sad about these happenings, however, is that star PG Chris Paul failed to reach the conference finals for another year, as he has for the rest of his career.

Another player in another major sport had his team in his conference semifinals.  After a 7-game series in the first round (just like the Clippers had vs. the Spurs), his team won game 1 on the road and lost game 2.  They went back home for two games, winning both.  While this team and player did not look as unbeatable as the Clippers did after their game 4, they still looked as if they would win the series with ease.  Of course, the next three games happened, and the team lost in 7 games.  The other team I was just talking about was the Washington Capitals.  Their star player is Alex Ovechkin.

So, are CP3 and Ovie one in the same?  Well, not quite.  Statistically, Ovechkin’s numbers in the regular season are generally higher than those in the postseason.  For his career, he scores 0.63 goals per game in the regular season, but in the postseason, that number drops to 0.5 goals per game.  He averages 0.47 assists per game in the playoffs, but in the regular season he averages 0.55 assists per game.  Points per game suffer the most precipitous decline however, as his numbers in that category from the regular season to the playoffs go from 1.18 per game to 0.97 per game.  Is this all his fault?  Probably not.  Hockey is generally a more random game than basketball, more dependent on bounces of a puck and players that are on the ice at any particular time.  However, the numbers don’t lie; he’s not as good a postseason player as he is a regular season player.

Now we move on to CP3.  He was drafted the same year as Ovie (2006) and has played in the same number of second seasons as Ovechkin (seven).  However, his numbers actually increase across the board come playoff time.  His points per game are up about two from the regular season to the post, from 18.7 to 20.9.  His assists per game are somewhat down, from 9.9 to 9.5, but in the playoffs, rotations get shorter and star players need to do more offensively for their teams.  His regular season field goal % is 47%; his playoff field goal % is 48%.  He also shoots better from 3-point range in the playoffs, hovering around the 38-39% range.  All of these numbers have been accrued in about two more minutes per game, which is an advantage Ovechkin doesn’t have.  However, it’s clear: Paul is not a playoff choker, by any means.  If anything, he’s actually better in the playoffs.

What I’m trying to say is that there is much more at play here than just the performances of Chris Paul and Alex Ovechkin.  Their teammates and organizations have not exactly helped them out in terms of personnel moves and big performances.  However, one thing is clear: there’s a lot here.

They are much more similar than you would think.

The Clippers are done for this year, and everyone is now looking to Chris Paul for the answers.
The Clippers are done for this year, and everyone is now looking to Chris Paul for the answers.

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