Takeaways from Chris Paul's "Chapter 3"

Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images

Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets after spending six years in Los Angeles as a member of the Clippers. The process was documented and turned into a short three-part series called "Chapter 3", which can be seen on ESPN's website. The short series gives an inside look at the in's and out's of free agency in the NBA. There are a few particularly interesting things that stuck out:

Chris Paul realizes that James Harden should be 'the man'.

Several times throughout "Chapter 3", Paul makes comments about having the ball all the time. Every year of Chris Paul's career, he has boasted a usage rate of at least 21.1, and holds a career average of 24.0 (per basketball-reference). At one point, he even tells hip-hop mogul and personal friend, Jay-Z, that he's "tired of dribbling, having to do so much." Enter James Harden. With a full-time switch to point guard last season, it seemed an odd fit to have Paul pair with someone who has played with the ball in his hands so often.

Chapter 3 directly addresses these concerns. Harden laughingly says that the Rockets want Chris Paul to have nights where he scores 40 points with no assists. Harden jokes that he and Trevor Ariza are going to be "at Chris' throat" if he passes up a shot. Paul and Harden both reiterate that this will be an adjustment process, but one that Paul is welcome to.

Paul refers to Harden multiple times throughout the series as "amazing" or "incredible". It's clear from the get-go that Paul has a degree of respect for Harden that he may not have had with his previous teammates. James Harden is, without a doubt, the best player that Chris Paul has ever played with. For a player of Paul's caliber to have that kind of luxury is game-changing for him, both literally and figuratively. Paul says that he has to get used to running to the corner, spotting up, things that he would never normally do previously in his career.

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Chris Paul will not have the same relationship with James Harden that Dwight Howard had.

Although Dwight Howard's name is never mentioned in the series, James Harden makes it very apparent that he and Paul's relationship is different than the one he shared with Howard. Specifically, Harden calls the relationship "genuine" and Paul adds that the two have seen how "different issues arise with different players". Paul continues by saying that something that's different about he and Harden is that they communicate and that issues "can often be prevented by communication", another seemingly obvious reference to Howard and Harden's relationship.

The difference between the two relationships, from an outside perspective, is that Harden and Howard never seemed to have communicated off the court. The two had never spoken outside of games played against each other until Harden's free agency pitch to the big man. As the nightmarish 2015-16 season went on, Howard admitted that he was unhappy with his role and wanted it to be expanded.

Paul is coming in with the exact opposite mindset; he wants to give Harden the spotlight, not take it from him. Paul states multiple times in Chapter 3 that his goal is to win a championship. He video chats with his agent and asks directly "How many games can this team win against Golden State with me? One? Two?" Paul clearly has the goal of a championship in mind and his actions are driven by that goal. Paul lauds Harden's skills when talking with his peers and makes it evident that Houston was at the top of his list because of James Harden.

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Chris Paul's 'team-first' mentality is crucial for the Rockets

The Rockets' chemistry last year such a critical part of their success. After seeing what a lack of chemistry can do in the 2015-16 season, it became very evident that tampering with that formula could be catastrophic. In the docuseries, Paul talks about how he would get his teammates in New Orleans to go out and do things together outside of basketball, but in Los Angeles, the teammates would ask things like "Do I have to go?", which visibly frustrated Paul. The chemistry with the Clippers had disappeared, and basketball became a job.

In Houston, Paul hopes to keep the team chemistry alive and well. Paul's previous relationships with Trevor Ariza and Bobby Brown are referred to as a large part of his decision to join the Rockets, further evidenced by the numerous amounts of pick-up games that Paul, Harden, Ariza, and Brown were seen at over the summer. While Paul's wife, Jada, was searching for a new home in Houston, he even told her that he had to have a big enough space to hold get-togethers with his team. While things may have soured in Los Angeles, it becomes very clear in Paul's actions throughout the series that he joined the Rockets because he believed in their ability to win a championship while maintaining a fun, family environment.

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