Nugg Love deems Chauncy Billups as a worthy Hall of Fame nominee. The point guard’s time with the Denver Nuggets solidifies his spot in basketball history.
Chauncey Billups is a former player for the Denver Nuggets, and an NBA champion. Unfortunately, the last fact wasn’t in a Nuggets uniform. However, the five-time All-Star did affect his hometown Denver Nuggets in a multitude of ways. Mainly, the culture.
The recent news of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame brought back fond memories of Chauncey Billups’ positive impact on the-then habitual first-round exit Nuggets squad of the 2000s.
Before the 2004 NBA Finals MVP graced a Nuggets jersey, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson had our eye. Although the two cornrow-rocking stars achieved regular-season success as a scoring-duo, it didn’t lead to an extended stay in the playoffs.
Yes, the two stars sold tickets and gave Denver some cool points in the media. Yet, those two factors didn’t play a role in pushing the Denver Nuggets closer to an NBA championship. Something had to give, and in light of Iverson’s age, was the one traded.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, the Pistons’ front office decided to end a great team a year too early. After only two games, Joe Dumars traded the heart and soul of the dynasty-defeating championship core. It’s one thing if he traded Billups for draft picks, but it was for a past-his-prime Iverson.
People trash valuable items every day. To you, it’s just an old artifact from your grandfather’s attic, to a collector it’s worth $5000. Dumars saw an opportunity to rebuild with Iverson’s expiring contract and thought it was worth giving away a Finals MVP. Ask Dumars how the rebuild went.
Thankfully, the Denver Nuggets realized Billups’ veteran leadership and on-court production coincided in his 12th NBA season. Iverson, although the more prominent name, didn’t provide Anthony or the Nuggets in general with the necessary tools to push the franchise in the right direction.
Chauncey Billups is a Hall of Fame player. Aside from the championship, five All-Star appearances, and three All-NBA nods, it’s his cultural impact that ultimately deserves HOF status. Especially considering what he did for the Denver Nuggets.
Upon Billups’ arrival, the Nuggets sparked a three-game winning streak. The overall offensive numbers reflected the easy-on-the-three approach of the era.
However, assist percentage, opponent’s turnover percentage, and opponent’s free throws per field goal attempt mirrored Billup’s calculated game.
As the season progressed, the growth of the Nuggets was apparent, indicative of the quality of teams beaten. Once Billups influenced the roster and the franchise in general, the seeds blossomed into a championship contender.
Chauncey Billups propels playoff positioning
In his first season with Denver, the team won an Anthony-era high 54 games. Defense and patience played a significant role in the growth of the Nuggets. Billups was the steady hand necessary for taking the next step as an NBA playoff team.
Carmelo Anthony, since his inception into the league, elevated Denver to relevancy. However, Denver’s franchise player couldn’t lead the team to a second-round appearance. Once again, the presence of Billups seemingly catapulted his team into the postseason.
Ultimately, the season ended at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. Contrary to Denver’s history before that season, it didn’t happen in the first round. The Western Conference, the gatekeeper of a potential champion, isn’t for the faint of heart.
The Nuggets’ playoff competition, although easily handled, a combined 8-2 playoff record against the Dallas Mavericks and the Chris Paul led New Orleans Hornets, employed star players, and great coaching on the Mavericks staff.
Nonetheless, it’s no coincidence Billups’ handprints on the game enabled Denver’s maturation as a Western Conference pest to a team such as the Los Angeles Lakers. The crafty skills of the Colorado native showcased on the gateway stage, the Western Conference.
Influence on the heart
Former head coach, George Karl, infamous for controversial comments in his book, wasn’t a players’ coach. Another place in which the Hall of Fame hopeful point guard affected, ironically, Karl’s heart.
The Anthony trade, although a necessary evil to rebuild, wasn’t without sacrifice in other aspects of the game.
After the smoke cleared and the aftershock from losing a franchise player faded, the championship pedigree of Chauncey Billups deemed the most precious person of the trade, at least in Karl’s eyes.
Overall, Billups’ culture-changing ways are worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame. Although not a long-time Nugget, he touched the franchise and a hardened coach in a magical manner.
Ultimately, Billups’ championship influence changed the narrative for a one-and-done playoff team.
If his time with the Detroit Pistons wasn’t enough, the few seasons with the Denver Nuggets serve as a resounding “let me in” performance.