The Science Behind Basketball’s Biggest Debate

On Sunday, the Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets 106–95. It was the first time in Chris Paul's 19-year career that he came off the bench.

ESPN Stats & Information study shows that since 1970–71, that's the most straight starts to start a career before coming off the bench for the first time.

After entering with 6:58 left in the first quarter, Paul was plus-8, scoring zero and providing three assists. Plus-22 in 27 minutes, he scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, seven assists, five rebounds, and one steal.

He became the Warriors' sixth-man after Draymond Green (ankle) returned after missing the first two games. Four points for Green in 21 minutes.

The Warriors went from losing by three to leading by 13 in the bench unit's first eight-and-a-half minutes without Stephen Curry on Sunday. Keeping a lead or close game was rare when Curry was on the bench last season.

A team source told ESPN last week that Paul will play most of his minutes with the second unit whether he starts or reserves.

"It's massive the way Chris has embraced everything," he told. He nodded and added, 'Let's go get 'em.' Not ever a problem. A vet, excellent player, or All-Star's sacrifice sets the tone for the club."

Since Paul's run ended, Milwaukee Bucks' Damian Lillard, who played in his 833rd career game Sunday, has the most starts without a backup. With 748 NBA starts, Dallas Mavericks' Kyrie Irving is next.