Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't Forget About Us: Chauncey Billups and Jason Terry

The main subplot of this NBA season has been the migration of star players to locations with other star players in place. Ever since the offseason, all the talk has been about LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Amare and Carmelo.

Lost in shuffle has been two veteran guards who have made a living of making clutch plays for their teams. One is known as Mr. Big Shot.

One of the most fascinating things about the Carmelo trade is the fact that Chauncey Billups has been discussed and treated mostly as a throw-in to the deal. Admittedly, I was guilty of this myself, not so much consciously as unconsciously. I didn't notice it until my roommate asked, "Would Chris Paul or Deron Williams make the Knicks that much better than Chauncey?" My immediate response was yes, because Deron and Paul are the two best point guards in the NBA, while Chauncey is getting up there in age. And when I heard the trade had gone through, my first thought was that the Knicks are definitely going to get Paul or Williams in a year or two.

Frankly, that's disrespectful and disingenuous to Chauncey Billups. This is a guy who was a Finals MVP, a five-time all-star, a guy who still shoots 43 percent from three and 92 percent from the foul line. He's still averaging 17 points and 5 assists, and 23 and 6 since heading to New York. Chauncey Billups isn't a throw-in. He's a major piece to New York's puzzle, and his playoff experience and crunch-time pedigree should frighten the living shit out of the rest of the Eastern Conference.

The sad thing is, it took until Sunday's win over the Heat for me to recall just how important Chauncey Billups is. New York's victory over the Heat will be forever remembered most for Amare's game-sealing block on LeBron and Carmelo's tough defense in the closing quarter on James, followed closely by Carmelo's 29 points and 9 boards, then Amare's double-double.

Lost in the shuffle of the highlights, however, was the impact Chauncey Billups had late in that game.

The Knicks were trailing by 4 with less than three minutes to go, and Chauncey just completely took over. He swiped a pass from LeBron. He blew by Mike Miller and hit an off-balance floater to make it a two-point game. Then he hit a deep three right in Wade's grill to give the Knicks a one-point lead with a minute left, a lead the Knicks would never relinquish. Without Chauncey Billups, that win doesn't happen. Simple as that.

What Billups brings to the table is invaluable. As well as Raymond Felton was playing this year for the Knicks, he doesn't have the kind of experience and fearlessness Billups does. And there isn't another player in the league you'd rather have on the line at the end of the game.

Chauncey still has more than enough left in the tank to make a major difference for New York. Last night, he scored 30 points and had 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in defeat. He was 18-20 from the line. The guy is still an elite-level point guard. With so many young stars at the position — Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, the list goes on — not to mention Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, it's easy to forget about Chauncey. But sleep on him at your own peril, because he's reminding everyone that he's much more than a throw-in. We forget about all those Eastern Conference Finals he led the Pistons to and, oh yeah, the Western Conference Finals he helped Denver reach as recently two seasons ago. Now Chauncey's making us remember.

Jason Terry is another veteran guard that often comes as an afterthought.

For starters, the Mavericks have been somewhat overshadowed in the West by the rejuvenated Spurs, the struggles of the Lakers, the infatuation with the Thunder and Blake Griffin, not to mention the Carmelo trade hanging in the air. This despite the fact that Dallas has the second-best record in the West and second-most wins in the NBA.

Secondly, Terry is often overshadowed by his own teammates. When you think Dallas, first you think Dirk, then probably Mark Cuban and Jason Kidd. And of late, most of the talk about other players on the Mavericks has revolved around Rodrigue Beaubois and Tyson Chandler's impact on defense. Then you add names like Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovic and the injured Caron Butler, and sometimes it's easy to forget about Terry.

When you really think about that, it's pretty preposterous. Terry has been one of the most potent bench scorers and clutch shot-makers for years. He's been a Sixth Man of the Year winner, a career 38 percent three-point shooter and career 84 percent foul shooter. And there might not be another bench player in the NBA you'd trust more with the game on the line.

Last night, Jason Terry torched the Sixers for 30 points.

He just went the hell off, and the Sixers were powerless against him. Terry was in the type of zone that few players can find. He went 13-18 from the field — 13-18. He was 3-5 from three. He simply couldn't be stopped. It's not the first time and certainly not the last time Terry has carried the Mavs to victory. How easy we forget sometimes.

Last night, he reminded us all just how awesome he can be offensively. Jason Kidd may have recorded his 8 millionth career triple-double in the 101-93 win (13-10-13), but Terry was without a doubt the player of the game.

They may not be as young and as flashy as the big names of today, but don't forget about Chauncey Billups and Jason Terry. These can still play and still play at a high level. And they may just have a bigger impact on who plays for the NBA title than you think.


  1. I agree. I knew that Chauncey would make a big impact despite being overlooked. I think right now the Knicks should consiider retaining him because he is such a great glue guy. Can't sgree with you about Jason Terry, however. Terry's just a gun and that's it. If he's not shooting the ball, he's utterly useless

  2. "Terry's just a gun and that's it. If he's not shooting the ball, he's utterly useless"

    OK, but he's rarely not shooting the ball and scoring in bunches, and he's a guy who can literally carry an offense for you consistently. There aren't many bench players in the NBA that can do that. And he has brass balls in the big moments.

    Terry certainly doesn't have the impact that Billups does, and he's not as a good player, but he's hardly useless because he's a gun that is lethal, not a water gun. Just my two cents. I know every contender out there would love to have a bench scorer like Terry.

    Think about it, what contenders have that guy? San Antonio with Manu … and that's about it. Celtics don't. Heat don't. Bulls don't. Magic don't. Thunder don't. I guess the Lakers if Lamar is coming off the bench.

    It's a luxury to have a gun like Terry that can absolutely be lethal off the bench.

  3. Thank you for singing the praises of Chauncey Billups, Brother Rev. I'm sick of folks taking this man's greatness for granted.