Why Chauncey Billups Will Make or Break the L.A. Clippers 2012-13 Season
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Between the superstar duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, all the shiny new additions to the squad and excitement over the development of young guys like Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan, Billups tends to get lost in the shuffle. Even if he's not the most buzzworthy guy on the roster, Billups will have just as big a say in how the Clippers fare this season as nearly anyone else on the team.
After revamping the roster in the offseason—particularly the lackluster bench—the Clips have enough depth to comfortably cruise into the playoffs. It's not until the postseason gets under way that Billups will really have that make-or-break effect on the Clippers.
Why is that? Two reasons.
First, Billups' calling card has always been as a crunch-time performer. His clutch play has earned him the nickname of Mr. Big Shot, and shots don't get any bigger than down the stretch of a tight playoff contest. Whereas last season Chris Paul had to literally make everything happen in the last five minutes of playoff games, Chauncey has the confidence and the experience to take some of that pressure off of Paul and create offense on his own.
Billups' game is exactly what the Clippers lacked last postseason. He's a dead-eye three-point shooter who can space the floor for Paul, and he's one of the best in the league at getting to the foul line—a quality that the Clips sorely lacked—where he's nearly automatic.
His postseason experience dwarfs everyone else on the roster. The fact that Billups is a former Finals MVP lends credibility to everything he says and does. Guys will listen to him on and off the floor, and he can help get his teammates ready for every tough situation they will face in the postseason.
The other reason Billups looms large in L.A.'s playoff picture is the potential matchups the team will draw in the postseason. Looking at the Western Conference right now, the consensus top three teams are the Lakers, Thunder and Spurs. Those teams employ three of the five or six best shooting guards in the NBA in Kobe Bryant, James Harden and Manu Ginobli.
Those are the guys that Billups will be squaring off against night after night come playoff time. And even if the Clippers make it all the way to the Finals, chances are another elite 2-guard will be waiting there in Miami's Dwyane Wade.
The shooting guard position is of paramount importance to any team trying to blaze a trail through the postseason, especially in the Western Conference. Billups will be relied upon to compete with—and ideally neutralize—those forces if the Clippers hope to compete for a championship this season.
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