If you know anything about the USA team that is being sent to Turkey for the FIBA World Basketball Championship, you probably know that they are young and athletic. This roster is full of young quick guards that can push the tempo of the game. Some of the big men on this team should still be in college. Kevin Durant is the best player on the team after his scoring champion season, and he is still only 21 years old.
With all of this youthful exuberance, there seems to be a need for a mature calming influence. That's why Chauncey Billups may be the most important player on the team for the USA.
Billups is now 34 years old and has been balling in the league since Kevin Durant was learning how to color inside the lines. He's played for five different teams, including two stops in his hometown of Denver. He has a ring on his finger and a Finals MVP to go with it.
Basically, Chauncey Billups is where guys like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry want to be in about 13 years. Billups, as well as Lamar Odom, will be the leaders on this team due to their experience. On a team that is so young, that means they will need to be teachers. They will be as needed as the coach's on the floor.
This team will have a very short schedule of games to get used to each other and it will take some fast learning from the young kids, as Chauncey calls them. As for Chauncey, he is known as Triple OG by the kids in the locker room. I'm really starting to feel the love around this team, even if it is thug love.
Rumor has that because of the oceanic depth at point there is a good chance Billups is going to get time at shooting guard. It's an interesting idea, and I guess we'll see what happens. In his 13th NBA season, he averaged a career-high 19.5 points per game, so he has the scoring ability.
That is exactly why the presence of a player like Chauncey Billups is so pivotal for team USA. He is willing to expand his game and fit whatever role the team needs, just like Kobe focusing on his defense in the '08 Olympics. With a lineup of Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, and Eric Gordon as the guards, the plan will be to run the other team to death.
At times when the pace gets frantic, Billups will be the one to corral the wild horses. The Americans will need to use the speed advantage because they don't have a lot to work with as far as size. With Tyson Chandler as the only proven center on the roster, they are not the type of team that will be able to slow it up and drop the ball down low.
We have already seen Chauncey Billups win in the red, white, and blue of the Pistons, but now he is determined to bring another gold to the stars and stripes. Wednesday on Jim Rome, Chauncey said that he is motivated to win this year's World Championship because Shaq is the only current NBA player to have won it for the USA.
It would be one more accolade for the mile high veteran to add to the trophy case, but he will need to lead a team that is so young that it is hard to imagine all of them being totally prepared for this tournament. Crowds may be hostile in Turkey, and not many of these players are familiar with playing over seas.
Yes, that sounds like the kind of pressure that can take a team down, and a few times too many for the US it has. Chauncey Billups has the experience and ability to take that pressure off the rest of the team. So you can call them the B team, but you must realize they have a five-time all-star and Finals MVP as a leader coming off the bench.