True Hoops

True Hoops

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Point Guard Project - Chauncey Billups

Welcome to the 9th edition of the Point Guard Project.

Previous participants:
PGP1 - John Lucas
PGP2 - Luke Ridnour
PGP3 - Jrue Holiday
PGP4 - Ricky Rubio
PGP5 - Royal Ivey
PGP6 - Damian Lillard
PGP7 - Derek Fisher
PGP8 - Stephen Curry

This time we are joined by Chauncey Billups

Where hasn't Chauncey been and what hasn't he done in his 16 year NBA career? Selected 3rd overall in the '97 draft out of Colorado, Chauncey has had stints in Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, Denver (again), New York, and now finally in LA with the clippers.

Of course, Mr. Billups was most revered while in a Pistons uniform. During those 6 years he averaged
17 points and 6.3 assists a game with 3 all-star appearances. He also led Detroit to 2 NBA Finals, winning the chip in '04 while earning Finals MVP honors.

But he didn't stop there. After moving back to Denver, he helped lead Carmelo out of the first round for the only time (just saying) and into the conference Finals - making it the 7th consecutive conference Finals appearance for him (one of only 5 players to do so since 1970). Chauncey was a two-time all star in Denver, averaging 18.3 points and 6.1 assists while there.

Listed at 6'3" and 210 ibs, Chauncey has career averages of 15.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.
Additionally, he won a gold medal with team USA at the 2010 world championships.

Mr. Billups, welcome to the Point Guard Project:

Summary of answers:

1) Grew watching Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Stockton, Mark Jackson, Sam Cassel, & Rod Strickland.
Took several things from all of those guys and made himself.

2) First memorable point match-up: Will always remember his match-up against Sam Cassel. Felt like he had some advantages over him going into the game: younger, faster, jump higher - felt like he could have his way....... When game was over he had like 12 points, 4-5 assist and 6-7 turnovers. Cassel had like 36 points and 11 assists! And he felt like he got all of those 36! Was the most humbling game he had ever been apart of. Cassel was just smarter. But, it made him realize he wasn't ready and that he had a ways to go.

3) Job of a point guard: Facilitate, keep everybody happy on the team, and just make sure you put your guys in a position to look good.

4) When to pass vs shoot: One of the toughest things to learn. It's all about game type situations. Having a feel - who's open and if thats their shot or if you have the advantage at the time. there are about 4-6 different reads that you have to make quick. And it takes time to perfect that.

5) Typical workout: Mostly done in the summer. Weight room first - core activation and full body workout. Then to the court. Warmup with some dribbling. Then start inside out: Post-up stuff and stay close to the rim. Then move to mid-range: floaters with right and left hand. Then work on three pointers. Finally work on pick and roll stuff.

6) For aspiring point guards: Study the game and how the game is played - the right way. Playing the game the right way means it's not just about highlights and stats. If you're a point guard you have to demand the respect of your teammates. The best honor for a point guard to have is for everyone in the locker room to say they enjoy playing with you.

First off, don't you just love the background theme music playing in the Clippers locker room??? It certainly made for a more crunk experience.

As far as Chauncey himself, it's easy to tell this guy has a wealth of knowledge about the game and more importantly for us is willing to share it. I absolutely love the story about Sam Cassel. Yes, talent can earn you being selected third in the NBA draft, but it means squat against wily veterans that have mastered their craft. Perhaps everyone needs a good humbling experience early n their professional careers to learn what it takes to be successful. And by the way, I certainly remember Cassel, when he was making big shots in the '94 Finals to help the Rockets beat the Knicks.

To tell you the truth - I always think about Chauncey Billups when considering the difficulties for point guards to determine when to pass vs shoot. As he mentioned "it's one of the more difficult things to learn." But Chauncey is a great example of how mastering this skill can transform your career, let alone those of the teammates around you. Yes, there was a lot of trial and tribulation - like bouncing around 4 teams in his first 5 years in the league. But Chauncey found a home and really became an elite point guard in Detroit. The story goes that Larry Brown, as coach, kind of taught Billups to play the "right" way and become more of a traditional pass first point guard that runs the team rather than looking to score all the time. And thus he learned how to "facilitate," make "everybody on the team happy," but most importantly "put guys in a position to look good." What was the result? 7 conference Finals in a row.

Ironically, becoming a pass first point may have made him more of a consistent weapon offensively. It must have taken pressure off him and it probably forced him into taking higher percentage shots. And if the defense realizes your strength is passing - they probably will play off you in certain instances to force you into shooting the ball. Therefore you don't have to create, just take what the defense gives you. Imagine how that feels if you came into the league as a scorer to begin with?

But truth be told, Billups had the right pieces around him to enable this development. And certainly not all point guards should or can become this type of player. When coach Brown moved to New York - he tried to convince Marbury to become a similar player - and that didn't work out too well. You may want to insert some jokes about Marbury here - but I would argue that he was just a tad ahead of his time. Try telling Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook to become more traditional points. Sometimes you have to let these guys play to their strengths.

Finally, how about a nicely detailed and fairly straight forward workout routine?
Start in the weight room and on the court with post ups (he is 210 ibs). Was he inspired by Cassel to go to the post? Has he come full circle at this stage in his career?

In general, start in close and then work your way out - yes, you need to develop your touch inside before you take 30 footers! And work on game situation shots - finishing floaters with both hands and pick and roll stuff. As a facilitator it's your job to get guys in the right spots. But hone your skills for situations when the defense leaves you open and have to take advantage of it. Pass vs shoot - difficult to decipher? But maybe easy to practice.

Much thanks to Chauncey Billups for his time!
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Point Guard Project!
Stay tuned for more!

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