After missing 14 straight games to heel soreness, Chris Paul finally made his return to the lineup on Wednesday. He was able to play over 20 minutes, but only put up four points, four rebounds, and four assists. To be fair, making a return from injury against the Celtics would be difficult for anyone.
However, we think Paul’s return was a bit premature. The Inside Injuries algorithm had given him a 4-6 week Optimal Recovery Time, and he came back to action before even the shorter end of that timetable. Depending on what exactly was causing the soreness in his heel, he could be at risk of aggravating the injury. We expect Paul’s minutes and his play to improve over the upcoming games, but we aren’t surprised he’s not at peak performance right now.
We expect the Suns to be cautious with Paul’s load at first, but we expect Paul to start looking like himself more and more as he approaches the 5-6 weeks from injury mark. Cameron Payne had been the player most benefitting from Paul’s absence, so his value will drop as Paul’s minutes increase.