ESPN’s Lowe picks Suns PG Chris Paul for All-NBA 2nd Team

May 17, 2021, 9:27 AM
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) gestures against the Golden State Warriors during the first half ...

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) gestures against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

ESPN analyst Zach Lowe vouches for Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul making the All-NBA Second Team list.

But the NBA analyst’s inclusion of Suns players ends there.

Lowe called Booker one of the last cuts to his All-NBA team picks for the 2020-21 season, while wing Mikal Bridges got left off the All-Defense squads.

(Utah guard Donovan) Mitchell was probably on track for one guard spot before his ankle injury. His first dozen games were scattershot, but he played like a superstar for the final 30-plus. I almost had him here; he would be a fine choice.

Ditto for Booker, who probably would have made my ballot last season (over Ben Simmons) had voters been allowed to factor in bubble games. But his advanced stats are well below these other guys, and most evidence labels Paul the No. 1 engine of Phoenix’s incredible season. Booker was among the very last cuts.

The timing of Paul’s arrival launches him ahead of Booker in terms of credit received for taking a scrappy bubble team in a disjointed 2019-20 season and turning it into the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, one of two 50-win clubs in the NBA this season.

Paul gets the lone Phoenix selection on Lowe’s list by averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.

The point guard played in 70 of 72 regular season games, averaging 49.9% shooting, second best in his career.

Lowe also considers Bridges one of the hardest cuts from his two All-Defense teams.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle is the reason for Bridges not making the list. Thybulle in his last game against Phoenix might’ve had the best defensive performance of any player against Booker in the past few years.

He averages only 20 minutes. In some games, he was on the fringes of Philly’s rotation. Thybulle doesn’t play as much as Bridges and (Toronto’s O.G.) Anunoby because he is way worse on offense. Those guys score well into double digits and play great defense over 30-plus minutes per game. Players with that kind of heavy-minutes, two-way burden should have a leg up here on defensive specialists. The latter group — Thybulle types — should face a higher bar.

Whenever that bar is, Thybulle clears it. He might be the best perimeter defender in the world. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders I’ve ever seen.

He averaged five combined blocks and steals per 36 minutes, an absolutely absurd rate. He is straight-up destructive to your emotional well-being and physical safety.

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