Along with being our coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, Chauncey Billups is a retired NBA player who significantly impacted the league during his 17-year career. Despite not being the most athletic player, Billups used his intelligence, leadership, and clutch shooting to become one of the most respected players of his generation. Some are skeptical that Billups should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but I’m here to tell you he should be in. Let’s look at why.
One of the main reasons Billups should be in the Hall of Fame is his impressive resume. He was a five-time NBA All-Star, three-time All-NBA, and two-time All-Defensive selection, and he won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 while being named the NBA Finals MVP. Billups was the team’s leader and floor general, often setting the tone with his steady play and clutch shooting, earning the nickname “Mr. Big Shot.” How did he get that name? It started during the two weeks in the 2003 season when he hit two game-winners, one versus the Golden State Warriors over Chris Mills and another versus the Atlanta Hawks over Jason Terry, to which Rick Mahorn appointed that nickname to him.
Statistically, Billups’ traditional numbers don’t jump off the page. For his career, Billups averaged 15.2 points per game, 5.4 assists per game, and 2.9 rebounds per game. His best three-year span was between 2006 to 2008, where he averaged 17.5 PPG/ 3.1 RPG / 7.6 APG, earning three All-Star selections, one All-Defensive team, and two All-NBA team awards. I looked up how this compared to some current hall of farmers, and he charts well with those players. For example, Maurice Cheeks, the defensive stalwart for the Philadelphia 76ers, finished his career on 11.1 PPG / 2.8 RPG / 6.7 APG averages. While “Mo” was a better defender than Billups (42.6 Defensive Wins Shares to 28.3), Chauncey was by far the better offensive player (92.4 Offensive Win Shares to 60.9). Looking at Billups’ stats through Basketball Reference, they have their stat called Similarity Scores. They take players’ win shares and compare them across similar players. Billups’s impact throughout his career is identical to that of Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade, and Russell Westbrook. While those are three completely different players, their valuation in Win Shares is the same. These three players are sure-fire Hall of Famers, and Chauncey is right with these guys.
But Billups’ contributions to the game go beyond just his accolades. He was known for his leadership and ability to make his teammates better. His teams often exceeded expectations, and he was able to elevate the play of those around him. One funny story that shows his cerebral abilities involves teammate Rasheed Wallace. Wallace was a hot head during his career, leading the league in technical fouls. During one game, Billups noticed Rasheed wasn’t playing up to his potential and needed him to win the game. Billups went to a ref near Rasheed after a questionable call (and a fuming Rasheed) and told the ref he needed a tech for his reaction. The ref agreed and assessed a technical foul to “Sheed.” Wallace scored the following thirteen points in the game, sealing a win for Detroit. In terms of his impact on the game, Billups was known for his strong work ethic and professionalism. He was a true point guard, always looking to set up his teammates and make the right play. He was also a strong defender, often taking on the task of guarding the opposing team’s best player.
Chauncey Billups has more than earned his place in the Hall of Fame. His combination of personal achievements, leadership, and clutch play make him a worthy inductee. It’s time for “Mr. Big Shot” to take his place among the all-time greats. Let’s hope his coaching leads our Blazers to the playoffs and beyond.