In order to address the quandary of not having a shooting guard on the roster going into the offseason, the Los Angeles Clippers struck a deal with Chauncey Billups to keep him on the squad in addition to signing veteran free agent Jamal Crawford (via the Los Angeles Times).
As for who should be the starter at the 2-guard spot come opening night, that will depend largely on the status of Billups' return from an Achilles injury that cost him the final two-thirds of the 2012 season.
Assuming a clean bill of health for both players, Billups is the clear choice to be the team's starting shooting guard. The decision isn't necessarily a reflection of who is the better player or even who deserves the lion's share of minutes at the 2.
It's simply the logical move given the roles that Billups and Crawford have played over their careers.
Both men have amassed over 800 regular-season NBA games (in Billups' case, over 1,000). While Billups has started over 90 percent of the games he's appeared in, Crawford has started less than half of his professional contests.
These trends have been particularly strong in recent history.
It's been a full decade since the last time Billups wasn't in the starting lineup. Conversely, Crawford has started just six games since 2009 and was named the NBA's top sixth man in 2010 while playing as a reserve for the Hawks.
For the sake of putting players in the best position to succeed, Billups and Crawford should remain in the roles they have grown accustomed to playing.
Leaving Mr. Big Shot in the starting lineup will give the Clippers a sense of continuity as they will be putting the same starting five on the floor that got them off to a hot start last season.
Billups is already familiar with playing off of Chris Paul and will furnish the starting unit with a deadly long-range sniper—a role that was a key component of L.A.'s success last year.
Meanwhile, Crawford can do what he does best—provide a major perimeter-scoring threat off the bench.
Between Crawford and fellow new addition Lamar Odom, the Clippers will have two of the past three winners of the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award bolstering a bench that was 26th in the league in scoring output last season.
The Clippers go into the upcoming season poised to build on the rare success they enjoyed in 2012. Signing a pair of experienced guards to fill a glaring need at the 2 is a step in the right direction.
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