Eric Karabell: Eric Gordon started 15 of 75 games for last season's Rockets. Suffice to say, his role wasn't intended to change this year, but Paul getting hurt in the opener changed all that. Now Gordon definitively heads to the bench, and it has to take a bite into his minutes and usage rate as well. Gordon is averaging three more field goals per game than last season, and Paul wasn't on the team. He's going to want to shoot, too. A lot. He's also going to be handling the ball, so it affects Harden. But ultimately, those who have relied on Gordon for a stunning increase in scoring will see that curtailed back to something more resembling last season's stats. It's still worth relying on.
Kyle Soppe: Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Gordon is a very good player who fits this Houston scheme perfectly, but are we really buying that he can sustain production near his current level once Paul is back in the mix? His usage rate is up 29.2 percent from last season. ... I wouldn't be comfortable projecting that sort of spike even knowing Gordon's roster lost an All-Star, so consider me pessimistic that it remains when an All-Star enters the rotation. Gordon's ceiling with Paul in the lineup is the stat line he posted last season, and that would mean a significant dip from what we've seen over the first month of the season.
Jim McCormick: I think it's natural for James Harden to lose some assist production during the overlap minutes they'll play together, but I can't shake the premise that in a historically gravity-friendly Houston offense, Paul should help the bearded one enjoy cleaner shots on a consistent basis. It's safe to assume Harden is content going for the scoring title if the cost is fewer assists.
I don't think anyone gets hurt fantasy-wise, per se, from the infusion of one of the most efficient distributors in league history. The key beneficiary of Paul's return could be Clint Capela, who already ranks second in the NBA in true shooting percentage and is fourth in the league in points per game as the roll man in the pick and roll. Capela sports 24.6 percent free throw frequency (percentage of roll actions he heads to the line), which is best among the top 20 scorers on "the roll" this season. Think of DeAndre Jordan at his best in roll actions and add in a dash of free throw efficiency. This should be fun.
With an offensive rating of 124 (points scored per 100 possessions for his team while on the floor) over the past 10 seasons, while never dipping below 119 in any given season, Paul remains entirely elite when healthy and capable of improving a Houston offense currently second in the league, with an offensive rating of 110. With one of the best assist-to-pass ratios over the past three years, Paul is only going to make spacing and scoring easier for the catch-and-shoot mavens on the Rockets, such as Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, Gordon and even Harden. I'm all-in on this offense going forward and think both Anderson and Ariza are due for rewarding regression from beyond the arc in the weeks ahead, positioning them both as buy-low candidates.
Joe Kaiser: The obvious answer is Harden. While Harden will still be a top-10 player with CP3, it's doubtful that he'll be able to rattle off streaks like the one he has been on lately, averaging 38.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 12 APG and 1.8 SPG in his past five games. Harden will still handle point guard duties a lot, allowing Paul to play off the ball, but the presence of Paul will mean fewer possessions going through Harden. I don't expect Paul's return to hurt anyone else's production, though, seeing that Anderson, Gordon and Ariza are all catch-and-shoot guys and Capela takes most all of his shots from point-blank range.