This is the eighth of our Clips Nation "exit interviews" of the 2012 Los Angeles Clippers., an overview and analysis, player by player, of all 15 Clippers who finished the 2011-2012 season on the roster.
Name: Chauncey Billups
2011-2012 Key Stats: 15.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 38.4 (3pt%), 30:18 mpg
Age: 35 (09/25/76)
Years in the NBA: 15
Years with the Clippers: 1
2011-2012 Salary: $2,000,032
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
In a Nutshell
It was only 20 games, but the Clippers started the season in impressive fashion, going 14-6 in the games that Chancey Billups played and started. They would win game #20, but if there was ever a case of winning the fight but losing the war, this was it. When Billups went down with a torn left Achilles in Orlando, the team went from being a dark horse title contender to a mere playoff contender, going 26-20 (30-27 including post-season) the rest of the way, and at one point, being no cinch to make the playoffs at all. Billups did receive some early criticism for his shot selection, but there was a lot more talk about the lack of a true and consistent third option after he went down.
Mr. big shot is most known for his leadership, court awareness, shooting, and clutch play. We saw all of these attributes at play early this season, and his leadership ability was displayed throughout as he had an important seat on the bench for home games and for all playoffs games after he was injured. All the great players tend to have elite court awareness, and Chauncey is no exception, as he seems to have a knack for knowing where his teammates are, manages the shot clock, and has a feel for playing a couple moves ahead on both sides of the ball. That he's deadly from 3 point range, and thrives in the clutch make him the asset he is even at his advanced age of 35. Though I guess he's not the only older NBA gent getting it done, as Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan can attest. Is there a better 35+ guard in the NBA? I haven't given it much thought, but it could be an interesting question.
Being a potential Hall of Famer, Chauncey's game is pretty well rounded, but if we're nitpicking, he has a tendency to force shots at times, and the stats will show a pretty low overall FG%, shooting 41.6% for his career and 36.4% with the Clippers. However, he makes his hay behind the arc and at the free throw line to rise his TS% to well above average. His age and declining physical ability is another inevitable point, though our defense was generally better with him on the court, as he has plenty of savvy to replace his declining physical abilities. It should also be mentioned that it was sometimes a little awkward having two leaders and ball hawks on the court at the same time with Billups and Paul, though it was to be expected that it would take some time for the team to develop chemistry. One final thought; Billups is not the elite playmaker he may have the reputation for, with a career assist/turnover ratio of 2.6, and 2.1 last season. In contrast, Chris Paul's career numbers of 3.9 and 4.33 with the Clippers truly are elite. This makes Chauncey all the better fit at shooting guard for us, and if he has to play less minutes to contend with opposing SG's, it's still well worth it. Seems most of these negatives turn into positives somehow.
Future with the Clippers
No question Chauncey was a huge addition to the team last year, and the Clippers were very lucky to get him in the first big score of the new CBA's amnesty clause. He was disappointed to not control his destiny as he would've liked when first claimed by the Clippers, but luckily, after mulling it over a few days he could see the situation the Clippers were in wasn't so bad after all. He'd still be a starter, and playing with a great friend in Chris Paul, and one of the NBA's most popular and exciting players in Blake Griffin. After his injury, he vowed to come back and always planned to prepare for the 2012-13 season, and he's followed through with that so far. He's also made the statement that he feels there's some "unfinished business" in regards to his time with the Clippers, so we know he's interested in coming back, we just don't know at what cost. The first shoe to drop this off-season was Neil Olshey, however if the Clippers can secure Chauncey's services going in to next season it will be game on once again.