Even after a 2-0 lead for the Phoenix Suns to start off the NBA Finals, the pressure to win a title for Chris Paul is at an all-time high. One could argue that CP3 is both the player with the most to gain and the most to lose in the NBA Finals.
After all, Paul has yet to reach an NBA Finals in his 16-year career and may never get another shot at this stage at age 36.
If I had to pick one or the other, however, I would say with certainty that he has more to lose than gain in these Finals. If Paul is not able to get the job done, especially after starting off the series 2-0, people will never give him the proper respect he deserves as an all-time great floor general.
Look at guys like Steve Nash and John Stockton, for example. They are both universally recognized as top-notch point guards, and rightfully so, but they are never mentioned in the same category as Magic Johnson. Johnson has five rings while Nash and Stockton have none to show for.
If Paul cannot get it done, people will remember him as the injury-prone point guard who choked on the biggest stage rather than an all-time cerebral point guard. As it usually goes, people tend to remember what you did lately.
Who Has the Most to Gain?
Because Giannis and Booker are still relatively young, however, I would not consider them as guys who have the most to gain, considering they have their careers ahead of them.
When it comes to coaching, Suns head coach Monty Williams has shown poise and brilliance throughout the entire 2021 NBA Playoffs. The Suns have overachieved this year, and whatever happens in the succeeding games of the NBA Finals, coach Monty will definitely lead the team for a potential title push in the next couple of seasons, at least.
That’s why I picked Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. Budenholzer, in the past, has come up short with the two-time reigning MVP on his team. He is known as a great coach in the regular season but has struggled to produce yet in the playoffs.
A lot of ramblings have been made that, if he does not at least win the Eastern Conference, he may lose his job. Considering he did lead his team to the Finals this year, maybe it is safe to say that he at least did enough to at least not lose his job.
What is for certain, however, is that if he is able to come back from down 2-0 and lead the Bucks to a championship, the way the league views him as a coach will completely change.
Instead of looking at him like an underachieving coach who fails to make proper adjustments, we will look at him like a genius who was able to not only beat the Nets with KD previously down 0-2 and beat the Suns with a hobbled Antetokounmpo.
Butenholzer’s entire coaching career may very well be decided by the outcome of these Finals. If he is able to get the job done, his job will surely be intact, and I would not be surprised at all if he gets a record-breaking extension.
Not only will his Bucks job be secure, but others around the league would be trying to fight for him as their next coach one day.