How to Play Point Guard Like Chris Paul

By Jeff Gordon

Chris Paul is one of the elite point guards in the NBA. He has led the league in assists per game several times, demonstrating some of the quickest hands in the league. He learned to dominant a big man's game as a small player at 6 feet tall and 175 rounds. To play like Paul, you must develop incredible dribbling skills, tremendous court vision, great shooting range, excellent fitness and an uncanny sense of anticipation.

Learn to Dribble Well

Learn to dribble exceptionally with your head up during stationary drills. Then go from there by alternating hands, going behind your back, dribbling on the run, weaving around objects, crossing over and so forth. Paul learned the ballhandling basics at basketball camps and refined his skill with relentless practice at home. "I always got to the point where I could do these same drills with two basketballs," Paul said in an instructional video for ESPN RISE.

Learn to Dribble Hard

Pound the basketball hard in every drill you do. Learn to control the ball at this hard tempo so you can control it in games, when your adrenalin is pumping. "If I can control dribbling it that hard, I can easily control it dribbling soft," Paul explained in an ESPN RISE video. Use these hard dribbles to beat defenders reaching in for steals. Hard dribbles also set up change-of-pace moves.

Develop Both Hands

Learn to use your "off hand" as proficiently as your dominant hand. If you are right-handed, work your left hand in dribbling drills. "Always do it with both hands so you don't get one-dimensional," Paul, who is right-handed, said in the ESPN RISE video. "When guys force me left, I actually get excited. I feel I actually dribble better with my left than than my right hand."

Master Passing Fundmentals

Deliver passes that put teammates in position to shoot. Put the proper spin on the ball by pushing your thumbs down on a bounce pass or through a chest pass. Deliver passes to the shooting pocket of your teammate, typically at the chest. "You have to give him the ball exactly where he wants the ball," Paul said in a Jordan Superstar Basketball Camp video.

Develop Good Timing

Learn to set up teammates for open shots by playing a lot of basketball and feeling the rhythm of the game. This knack cannot be mastered in individual drills. "Timing is crucial," Paul said in a Jordan Superstar Basketball Clinic video. "In basketball, one second too late is a turnover."

Develop Shooting Range

Force defenders to guard your jump shot. Paul has become a more effective long-range shooter since arriving in the NBA, improving both his range and accuracy. Defenders can't sag off of him to deny his dribble drives and his penetration passes. Point guards who draw in defenders are more able to create opportunities for others.

Hit the Weight Room

Build an athletic body if your want to play like Paul. Initially he resisted weight training, fearing that getting bulky would slow him down. But Paul quickly realized he needed more strength and better flexibility. “Now I know that it helps me deal with the contact every night," he told Stack.com. "It’s not about getting big and bulky; it’s about preventing injuries and getting my core strong.”

Keep Developing New Moves

Use the offseason to develop new wrinkles in your game. Develop dribble moves that opponents haven't seen before. "Every year I come into the NBA, I want to bring something new," Paul told Stack.com in an interview. "Keep guys guessing. Never let them know what is coming next."

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