Paul was a McDonald's All-American in high school. He attended Wake Forest University for two years of college basketball, where he helped the Demon Deacons achieve their first-ever number one ranking. He was selected fourth overall in the 2005 NBA draft by the New Orleans Hornets, where he developed into one of the league's premier players, finishing second in NBA Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2008. During the 2011 offseason, Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, only for the transaction to be controversially voided by the NBA. Later that summer, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers instead. Behind Paul's playmaking, the Clippers developed a reputation for their fast-paced offense and spectacular alley-oop dunks, earning them the nickname "Lob City". In 2017, he was traded to the Houston Rockets, and helped the team win a franchise-record 65 games in his debut season. He was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook on July 16, 2019.