Early November, 2008. Think the Nuggets can win it all? No way. With Iverson and Anthony, there's just not enough chemistry.
November 3, 2008. Think the Nuggets can win it all? Possibly. With the new acquisition Chauncey Billups, and Iverson out, there's certainly a chance.
And that chance becomes a little bit more of reality, after every passing game that the Nuggets have been playing in the playoffs.
Billups, 32, returned to the Nuggets for the second time in his career at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season. After being traded for the fifth time in his career, to six different clubs, Billups showed why he was the 2004 NBA Finals MVP in his first recent season with the Nuggets.
Billups brought some things to the table Allen Iverson couldn't. Leadership, passing ability, and experience.
Leadership is what everyone loves about Billups. He's a selfless point guard, who can still drop 25 points on opponents. But, almost no matter what, Billups will always look for the open man, and do what's best for the team. Something "The Answer" certainly lacked.
Iverson could be a decent passer, in some games. But on most nights, Iverson would think he's the only player on the Nuggets roster.
Sure, Iverson has experience. He's 33, and has an NBA Most Valuable Player award.
Billups has been to the Conference Finals for seven straight years now. Clearly more experience, in terms of playoff basketball.
In Billups' return to Denver, numbers one and four were both taken by JR Smith, and Kenyon Martin, respectively, so Billups decided to wear number seven, in honor of Denver Broncos' great John Elway. Elway introduced Billups when the Nuggets came to Denver in the series against the Mavericks.
Billups, who went to the University of Colorado, was drafted third overall by the Boston Celtics in 1997. In a draft that featured three all stars, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, and Billups, Billups has arguably been the best selection in the draft.
Billups has made the All Star team in four straight seasons, and was the only Denver Nugget in this year's battle of the best.
This year, Billups averaged 17.9 PPG in the regular season, along with 3 RPG and 6.4 APG. Certainly not overwhelming stats, but the impact Billups made on the court is what fueled the Nuggets into the number two seed in the West.
This year, Billups was selected to the All-NBA third team, along with NBA Sportsmanship Award.
In the battle of the point guards—Chris Paul vs. Chauncey Billups—Billups showed just how valuable playoff experience is. The Nuggets got past the Hornets in just five games, and went on to defeat the Mavericks in five games.
Up next for Billups will either be the Los Angeles Lakers, or the Houston Rockets. Though the Nuggets have gone just 1-3 against both this year, I believe Billups can carry the load for Denver and definitely have them ready for either opponent.