Los Angeles Clippers: Why Chauncey Billups Is Imperative to Team's Success

Zayne Grantham@ZPGSportsContributor IIIJanuary 30, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Chauncey Billups #1 of the Los Angeles Clippers in action against the Golden State Warriors during the season opener at Oracle Arena on December 25, 2011 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers are off to a great start in 2012, and a large portion of their success has come from the great play of guard Chauncey Billups.

Billups was claimed off waivers by the Clippers before the start of the shortened season, and that acquisition has proven to be a smart choice by Los Angeles. Billups most recently played with the New York Knicks, but was waived under the amnesty clause to make room for Tyson Chandler.

Billups never wanted to go to the Knicks in the first place, and had said he would contemplate retirement if he was picked up by a team that he did not consider a true contender in 2012. Obviously, Billups thought that the Clippers were a good team, and it turns out that he has been one of the Clips' best players this year.

So far this season, Billups has averaged 16 points and four assists per game. He has established himself as a veteran presence on the Clippers and will continue to impact the team greatly from a leadership standpoint. This is the main reason that Billups is so valuable to the Clippers organization.

Los Angeles made a trade for All-Star point guard Chris Paul shortly before the season started and he was expected to come in and dominate for the Clips. That has been the case for the Clippers when Paul has been in the game, but he just recently came back after missing five straight games.

During that five-game stretch, the Clippers went 3-2, but they got huge play from Billups and a couple other key players. Billups' statistics in those games were good, but not by any means remarkable. However, I believe that Billups helped the Clippers the most from a leadership standpoint.

Besides Paul, the Clippers have plenty of young talent. Los Angeles has key players in DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Mo Williams and Randy Foye. All of these players, except Butler, are 29 years old or younger.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it shows that the Clips need a strong veteran presence from a guy like Billups.

This is a very young and talented team playing in Los Angeles. Many skilled teams have been unable to handle success for the very reason of not knowing how. The acquisitions of Billups and Paul immediately gave the Clippers two players that have been in the league for a while and know how to lead a team to success.

When Paul went down with an injury, Billups stepped in and helped to control this young Clips team. We saw a couple of good scoring performances from Billups while CP3 was gone, but his main impact was controlling the team.

Billups was able to put up 32 points in the Clippers' close win over the Denver Nuggets, and we will probably continue to see Billups do this at points during the season. Billups is a player that is capable of putting up great stats on any given night.

The Clippers undoubtedly enjoy having a player that plays this well offensively and can also contribute in a great way on defense. We all know about the size advantage that Billups brings to the court and he will surely control many opposing players on defense.

However, despite Billups' value on both sides of the ball, he is irreplaceable because of the leadership and experience he brings to the Clippers. As long as Los Angeles has Billups, they have someone who has been to multiple NBA Finals and won a title. That experience in itself is very important to a team's success.

The Clippers have a great chance of becoming a serious competitor this year, and a large part of that is due to Billups joining the team.