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The Swagger of Chauncey Billups

 

 

In the wake of last week’s NBA trade deadline, Chauncey Billups’ name was an afterthought in the deal that landed Carmelo Anthony in New York. Despite being a former NBA Finals MVP and possessing the league-wide nickname “Mr. Big Shot,” his name was somehow barely mentioned in all of the drama. Plenty of people have forgotten about this guy and I don’t know why, and through his first four games with the Knicks, he has been quick to remind us of the confident swagger that has yet to leave his game.

Billups has never put up banner numbers (averaging around 16 and 6 for his career), and his numbers for 2010-2011 (17 and 5) are not as impressive as former Knick point guard Raymond Felton (17 and 9), who was shipped to Denver in the same trade. But this is where numbers get in the way of the overall impact that a player has. Billups consistently makes plays during pivotal stages of games, recently evidenced in New York’s statement win at Miami, where he came up with numerous late buckets and a steal.

 



He has been doing this for years now, but people are quick to think that his career is slowing down and that he no longer possesses much value. Perhaps he is a little past his prime at the age of 34, but diminishing his worth is foolish. Billups’ game has never been about flashy speed or plays made above the rim that dissipate as one ages. He simply elevates the intangibles. He hits big shots. He plays physical D. He gets to the free throw line. He helps a team mesh. He’s a coach on the floor. He’s reliable.

Look at the various phases of his career, which began with him bouncing from team to team proving that he really was a talented baller. And his six-year stint with Detroit, which included a championship victory over the Lakers and the aforementioned Finals MVP, always featured successful teams that excelled in the little things. Since his departure from Detroit, the team has fallen a part, and in his 2 years in Denver, he took them to the Western Conference Finals (2009), which was foreign to them prior to his arrival.

Swagger and winning are the trademarks of Billups’ game, and we should not expect anything different as he now suits up under the bright lights of NYC. If the Knicks see success this year, I believe it will be because of Billups’ veteran presence. Yes, Carmelo and Amar’e Stoudemire will make plays, but Billups is the general. Not only that, but his style of play fits perfectly with Carmelo and Amar’e, who are talented one on one players. They do not necessarily need a point guard who is always setting them up for their shot or coming off ball screens. They need a court-savvy presence who gets them the ball, spreads the floor by hitting open shots, and manages the game while also possessing poise and swagger when its crunch time.

 

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Some wonder if this is Billups’ only year in New York, as the Knicks may pursue Chris Paul in the offseason. A player of Paul’s caliber is tough to pass up, but many fans are overlooking what Billups can still do. If the Knicks do part ways with Mr. Big Shot, look for him to land elsewhere doing what he always does.

We are in the era of the “point guard” and Billups is not nearly as flashy or gifted as D-Rose, Deron Williams, or rookie John Wall, but Billups remains a player who simply gets its done. We could perhaps say that he is the point guard version of Tim Duncan, though that could be a stretch. But the point is that he is not going to “posterize” anyone or repeatedly be seen on Sports Center’s top 10, yet he is undoubtedly the kind of guy that you want to have on your team. His steady swagger is contagious, and you can see it in the sly smirk he often carries up and down the floor. He has this look as if he knows he’s going to make a big play. And then he goes and does it, time and time again, almost as if his confident swagger is in his DNA.

For Knicks fans, Carmelo and Amar’e make for a great a combo, and they should be quick to add Billups to the mix to create their own Big Three. The Big Three seems to be a developing trend in the NBA- Miami, Boston (Big Four), and Chicago have their respective combinations. And New York certainly now does too. It will not shock me in the least if Billups becomes a crucial player in this year’s NBA postseason, because he has a knack for showing up on such stages. The league is being overloaded with guys who possess flash but Billups is a good reminder of a guy who ultimately carries the swagger of winning.

 

By: Haddon Anderson
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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