Although Carmelo Anthony may be the centerpiece of a mega-deal that brings him (and hopes for an eventual championship) to the New York Knicks, he may not be the most crucial piece at this point.
While Anthony will have to adjust to playing alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, the two are both superstar talents who will both seemingly relish such an opportunity—it’s likely the two cannot wait to start.
However, the key piece to the New York Knicks continuing to build on their already present success this season is none other than Chauncey Billups.
It’s well known how important a point guard is in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. He turned Steve Nash into a two-time MVP, and in his first (and only) season with Raymond Felton as his disciple, he almost elevated Felton to All-Star status—what the two could have accomplished in future seasons, the NBA world will never know.
The two biggest stars D’Antoni has ever coached on the same team are in fact Nash and Stoudemire, and it surely helped things that Nash was a pass-first player who looked to bring the best out of his teammates. But how will D’Antoni adjust to coaching a team with two scoring stars?
It’s likely he will rely heavily on his new floor general in Billups. Aside from acquiring one of the NBA’s top ten talents in Anthony, the Knicks acquired a winner in Billups.
He simply knows how to win. In addition to being an NBA Champion and Finals MVP with the Pistons, Billups instantly turned the fate of the Nuggets around for the better when he came to his hometown in exchange for Allen Iverson.
Billups is a very positive chemistry guy and has certainly proved to be an effective leader throughout his career. While Felton’s leadership was key to the Knicks’ elevated play this season, it is Billups who will be looked at even more as a new leader for this Knicks squad, especially come playoff time.
How the Knicks, who still remain after the trade, respond to Billups’ leadership remains to be seen, but with a new healthy mix of young talent and veterans, this team should now be concentrated on making noise in the playoffs.
Aside from depleting their depth a bit in return for a star, the Knicks gave away much of their youth. Players like Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler were just starting to come into their own, whereas the team never quite saw the full potential of players like Timofey Mozgov and Anthony Randolph.
While youth can give a team a higher ceiling for the future, veteran experience can deliver championship hopes even sooner.
With Billups likely on board for at least the next two seasons, it’s probable he will lead the charge as his new team prepares to become a major contender.
While he will surely be relied upon to get Anthony and Stoudemire on the same page offensively, it’s also possible Billups’ own individual offense will be counted on just as much, as the Knicks form a “Big Three” of their own.
Billups is one of the smartest floor generals in the league, but as a 39 percent career shooter from downtown, D’Antoni might look for him to be just as much of a scorer as well.
Billups played a good amount of shooting guard while on Team USA this past summer, a team for which D’Antoni served as assistant coach.
Knicks fans may not realize how good of an acquisition Anthony Carter is in craziness of this massive deal. He’s a guy who can pass and keep his teammates effectively involved, something the Knicks were desperately seeking out in a backup point guard all season long. It’s possible that Billups could share the backcourt with Carter, as well as Toney Douglas (as Douglas did with Felton) for an interesting tandem.
Just exactly how Billups will fit into the fold for the Knicks will be interesting to see, but the possibilities seem to be endless for this jack-of-all-trades and NBA champion.
While Anthony and Stoudemire may be the future of the New York Knicks franchise, the team’s hope for continued short-term success certainly lies with Billups.
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