Yes and No – leaning towards no.
I’m going to say this is a bit of a complicated one.
Yes he definitely deserves criticism because he’s an all time great, and any time an all time great performs below expectations they’re going to get criticized. CP3’s performance in the Finals was not up to the level he was performing against the Clippers and not to the level he was performing against other teams. His turnovers and plus/minus all reflect that he was having a much more difficult time against the Bucks, and he seemed to shy away from shooting the ball as much despite his shooting (55% FG% in the Finals and 52% from 3P) being quite good. If you’re shooting that well – SHOOT MORE. Why let Devin Booker take all the shots if he’s been feeling off for the last 4 games of the series. The fact that the Suns lost 4 *in a row* part of the blame has to be on the team captain and veteran – Chris Paul.
Now on the other side – this shouldn’t diminish his legacy in any way – it should add to it. No one expected CP3 to be in the Finals this year. No one expected the Suns to be there this year. No one expected him to be as good as the 2x MVP dominant monster Giannis in his prime. The fact that he led that team there – at 36 years old past his prime – should be commended. He has taken himself off a list that previously consisted of himself, Melo, Gervin, Dominique and Nash – and put himself on a list consisting of Malone, Barkley, Iverson, Baylor, Ewing, Stockton etc
He’s one of the greatest to never win a ring. Period. Advanced analytics wise he’s one of the greatest ever. He has the 6th highest PER all time, the 3rd highest WS/48 all time, the second best assist to turnover ratio all time, and his TS% amongst guards lags only behind Steph Curry all time. So I don’t think this should affect his legacy. I have him as a top 5 PG all time. Many people scoff at this because of his lack of rings and his repeated playoff failures. This despite that CP3 has clearly been proven to take below average talent and make them better. He took the 2020 OKC to 7 games in the NBA playoffs despite that team not being much better than the 2021 Warriors which Curry couldn’t even make the playoffs with!
They say CP3 chokes and isn’t clutch. If he wasn’t clutch they wouldn’t have even been in the Finals in the first place – it was his 41pt performance against the Clippers in Game 7 that lifted the Suns to the Finals!
Stats wise here’s how 36 year old CP3 compares to 2016 unanimous MVP Steph Curry:
CP3 (2021 Finals): 23 / 3 / 8 / 55% FG%
Curry (2016 Finals): 23 / 5 / 4 / 40% FG%
And Curry doesn’t seem to receive a fraction of the hate CP3 has.
At the very least I think he’s put himself above John Stockton and Steve Nash here. The only thing Nash has is the MVPs – and they are controversial MVPs. Nash lacks the scoring and defense that CP3 can give. And of course Nash didn’t even reach the Finals. Stockton has the longevity but CP3 again is the better scorer here. Stockton wouldn’t be able to have that 41pt performance against the Clippers that CP3 had. And he’s most certainly above Gary Payton. Payton is better at on ball defense but remember CP3 is a 9x All Def player and 6x steals leader too. Shooting and passing wise CP3 is better than Payton by huge margins.
^ These kinds of comments are the type that are from fans that are living too much in the moment. Saying that Ja Morant is better than CP3 is kind of insane. These people need to take a chill pill and remember that EVERY NBA superstar has bad moments in their careers from Magic in the 1984 Finals to Dirk in 2007 first round to Curry in the 2016 Finals to Kobe in the 2004 Finals and of course Lebron in 2011. Every superstar except for maybe Michael Jordan had a choke moment. That doesn’t mean that just because of it, CP3 should be ranked below Ja Morant that’s just idiotic and an overreaction.