LeBron James has compared Chris Paul's basketball IQ with stars Rajon Rondo and Draymond Green ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers' playoffs series against the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers won through their play-in game against the Golden State Warriors, earning seventh seed and the right to take on the second seed Suns, who are led by experienced point guard Paul.
Four-time NBA champion James has remarkably never faced 11-time NBA All-Star and high school friend Paul in the postseason.
Rondo and Green are widely known for their basketball intelligence and James identified Paul among those lofty standards.
"It's going to be comparable to playing against Rondo in a series, playing against Draymond in a series," James said during a video conference call on Friday.
"You have those out-of-this-world IQ type guys and fierce competitors, at the same time so it's the same thing.
"Every time I faced Rondo in the past, I knew I had to be not only on my A-game as far as my game, but also my mind as well and that's the same with Draymond, every time you go against those Warriors teams.
"I've had experiences with those two guys, so that will definitely help me in matching up with CP [Paul] because I know the competitor and I know the IQ of the basketball player that he is."
The Lakers may be the seventh seed but head into their series with the Suns as the bookmakers favourites, having been 2019-20 champions.
The Suns surprised a lot of people by ending their long playoffs wait and finishing as high as second in the Western Conference.
Suns coach Monty Williams insisted that being considered underdogs did not faze his side.
"We all hear it," Williams said on Friday. "Ultimately you got to get out there and compete for 48 minutes, and that's what we plan to do.
"Did anybody think we were going to win 51 games this year? In a shortened season? Don't think so. So why would we listen to those people now?"
On facing the reigning champions first up, he added: "Our guys aren't bitter. We're looking forward to competing against the Lakers.
"We're not upset or feel like anybody's done something to our Cheerios. We have to go play the Lakers."