Chris Paul Faces A Pupil In Houston’s Isaiah Canaan

Two years ago, Canaan attended Paul’s basketball camp. Paul said he knows he must be getting older, seeing players he helped teach now facing him in the NBA. But he also knows from the camp how talented a player Canaan is.

HOUSTON – The disciple becomes the foe as Chris Paul matches up against Houston’s Isaiah Canaan tonight.

Two years ago, going into his senior year in college, Canaan attended Paul’s basketball camp. Now, the Rockets point guard is set to start against one of the players he’s idolized.

“It’s always a dream to start for an NBA team and going against some of the players you look up to and still learn from today,” Canaan said. “He’s one of the better guards in the league. I’ve just got to go out there and guard him the best way I can and compete.”

Paul said he knows he must be getting older, seeing players he helped teach now facing him in the NBA. But he also knows from the camp how talented a player Canaan is.

He said the Rockets are lucky to have Canaan.

“Isaiah was unbelievable that year at camp,” Paul said. “He actually stayed in touch, kept talking. He actually drove down to Memphis and came to my playoff game, stuff like that. I’m glad to see him playing well. He deserves it. He works hard, and he’s really good.”

Not every team realized the kind of talent Canaan had like Paul did.

The Murray State point guard fell to the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft, going 34th overall to the Rockets. Canaan averaged 4.6 points per game, one assist and 1.1 rebounds per game in 11.5 minutes per game his rookie year.

With injuries throughout the Rockets’ lineup early this year, including a hamstring injury to point guard Patrick Beverley, that’s meant more time for Canaan. He’s already started eight games this year, averaging 9.3 points and 1.8 rebounds and assists per game while shooting 42.4 percent from 3-point range.

Paul said it’s been great to see Canaan’s development, and he thinks if the guard was on a team that was “his team,” Canaan would be better than he is already. He knows Canaan will be fired up to play against him, but Paul’s used to that by this point in his career.

“I’ve got to be ready,” Paul said. “He had an amazing game the other night. Even when he doesn’t score, he plays the right way. He plays hard every night. He’s a competitor, and I think that’s why I liked him so much.”

Canaan said he’s got to put pressure on Paul and make Paul guard him to try to wear him down. When Canaan’s on defense, he said he’s got to keep Paul out of the paint.

He knows he’ll have his hands full with one of the players he’s always looked up to. Canaan said Paul is “his guy,” and that the two maintained a relationship and stayed in touch throughout and since the draft process.

But he also said, at least tonight, Paul’s also the enemy. There won’t be much positive chatter until the final buzzer goes off.

“At the end of the game, when we get the W, then I can talk to him about what all happened throughout the game,” Canaan said with a smile.

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