Rockets Land Chris Paul at a Cost (6/28/17)
The Rockets have traded for Chris Paul, but he wasn't cheap. They'll be sending Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and likely a first round pick to the Clippers. To the eye, this seems like a pretty fair deal. The Clippers get tons of upside while James Harden gets an elite level point guard.
For starters, Chris Paul had the second highest Real Plus-Minus (RPM, ESPN's newest metric to measure individual players) this season. For reference, RPM correlates closely to the betting market and is one of the best metrics for evaluating players/teams. Granted, Paul only played in 61 games this season but he ranked third overall in 74 games last year. Simply put, when healthy, Chris Paul is one of the best players in the NBA on both sides of the ball. Just to put things into perspective, Paul's RPM translated into more wins per 82 games than that of league MVP, Russell Westbrook, this past season.
On the Clippers side, Beverley is a top defending point guard, ranking only behind... Chris Paul. He is also a plus offensive player. Beverley missed a bit of time this year, as well, only playing in 67 games. Nonetheless, RPM ranks him 10th overall at the point guard position. He's not Chris Paul, but he's a good all-around player.
Lou Williams will bring much more offensively than defensively. Williams was the third ranked offensive shooting guard last season between the Lakers and Rockets. Both the Lakers and Rockets favored Williams' style of play, opting for fast pace and preferring three point shots. It is unknown whether or not the Clippers will utilize this style, but they certainly have the pieces available to them if they moved in that direction.
Sam Dekker is 23 and heading into his third year. This season was essentially his rookie year, only playing in three games in the '15-'16 season. Dekker was able to do enough offensively to settle in around league average for the season. He even went through some spurts in the middle of the season that were truly impressive. His offensive upside is quite apparent. However, he's not a great defender, yet. The Rockets don't necessarily preach defense, so let's not give up on him yet in that regard. There's plenty of upside left in Dekker to think he can become a better shooter and defender.
At a team level, this trade makes the Rockets a better team. One would assume they are not done dealing considering they have two roster spots to fill, but if we replace those remaining minutes with a replacement level player, the Rockets have improved by about a half of a point. Taking on Chris Paul's contract seems like quite a bit for one half of a point, but if the Rockets are able to sign/trade for additional plus players, that number will only increase. They did give up two plus players and an additional player with tons of upside, and those plus minutes still need replaced if they want to compete with the Warriors in the West.
I won't attempt to make a guess at Doc Rivers' rotation with their additions; however, this is essentially a lateral move for the Clippers which makes them a playoff team in the West, but still far from reaching a championship. This seems to be a move to get out in front of a few player options and free up cap space with pieces to fill in ahead of time. After next season, the Clips will have tons of cap space to build an entire team if anyone is willing to get together in Los Angeles, but that's easier said than done.