Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul passed Hall of Famer Michael Jordan for third on the NBA’s all-time steals list in a 116-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night. Here’s what you need to know:
- Paul now has 2,515 career steals, passing Jordan’s record of 2,514.
- The 12-time All-Star has averaged 2.1 steals per game over his 18 seasons in the NBA.
- Paul now trails Hall of Famer and Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, who has 2,684 career steals. John Stockton holds the all-time record with 3,265.
Congrats to @CP3 of the @Suns for moving to 3rd all-time in career steals! pic.twitter.com/6YIgVKdcYR
— NBA (@NBA) February 17, 2023
Paul has been known for his tenacity defensively for as long as he’s been in the league, as he averaged 2.2 steals per game during his rookie season. His career high of nine steals came in a win over the Mavericks when Kidd was the point guard alongside NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki on Feb. 20, 2008. Paul flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 31 points, 11 assists and nine steals.
In Thursday night’s loss to the Clippers, Paul finished with five points, 11 assists, four steals and three rebounds. The Suns fall to 32-28, sitting fifth in the Western Conference at the All-Star break.
How Paul is cementing his NBA legacy
Paul is often called “The Point God” for his offensive traditional point guard abilities. Only Stockton and Kidd have more career assists, and Paul has only one season out of 18 averaging at least 3.0 turnovers per game.
But the 75th Anniversary Team member has led the NBA in steals (six) more times than he has led the league in assists (five). Paul has made nine All-Defense teams as a 6-foot player — half of his seasons. And even at the age of 37, Paul is still averaging 1.6 steals per game, good for 12th in the NBA. The only starting point guards who average more steals per game this season are All-Stars Tyrese Haliburton and Paul’s former teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and both of those players aren’t even 25 years old yet. — Murray
Evaluating Paul as a defender
Even Thursday night against Paul’s former Clippers team, he showed the full variety of his ability to force turnovers. Whether it was stopping Terance Mann at midcourt in transition, ripping Ivica Zubac after an offensive rebound, sliding into the paint to intercept a Bones Hyland bounce pass, or simply being the lucky recipient of Kawhi Leonard’s pass off of the rim, Paul combined skill with being in the right place at the right time consistently. Passing Jordan on the all-time steals list is simply a reminder of how Paul is one of the greatest defenders ever, not just at the point guard position either. — Murray
(Photo: Dylan Buell / Getty Images)