Chauncey Billups’ game has come along way. After being drafted third overall in the 1997 NBA Draft, Billups was considered a bust for his five seasons as he played with four different teams. Then, before the 2002-03 season, Billups was signed by the Detroit Pistons where he was able to learn the right way to play the game from team executive Joe Dumars, coach Rick Carlisle and even veterans like Danny Manning, Cliff Robinson, Michael Curry and Jon Barry.
The switch was flipped for Billups when he joined the Pistons as his talent was finally matched with his better understanding of the game, hard-work and a system that complimented his game. Ever since, Billups has been one of the rarest basketball players in recent memory by continuing to improve well into his 30s.
Now (back) with the Northwest Division-leading Denver Nuggets, Billups is helping local youth learn the game that he now understands. Chauncey Billups joined Mike and Scott on 104.3 the Fan in Denver to talk about teaching the game to kids, Kenyon Martin’s injury, how he has improved this season, and the team’s maturation through the health issues facing head coach George Karl.
On how to best teach the game to kids:
“It starts young. You got to get these kids to understand the fundamentals of the game, to understand that it is a team game and not about one guy scoring 20-40 points. It’s about the team effort, the team effort and the camaraderie. You got to start those learning experiences young. Because the And1 basketball that broke the scene six or seven years ago messed the game up. That’s not basketball. That’s fun and that’s cool when you go to the park… I think so many times, the young players today, think that 25 points is dominating the game. 25 points is not dominating the game. That might mean you are scoring. But that’s only one facet of the game. Are you getting stops? Are you getting rebounds? Are you going after loose balls? Are you stopping their man from getting 25? You know, little stuff like that.”
On maturity of team dealing with George Karl’s absence:
“It speaks to the leadership that a guy like Melo is bringing. And KMart and myself and Nene…You got captains on the team that are going to hold everyone accountable, so you got some staying power.”
On what team has done to adjust for absence of Kenyon Martin:
“Collectively, defensively we have tried to pull it together in stretches. I can tell being out there that we miss his presence so much defensively. He’s always talking out there. He’s always in the right spot. He always makes the right rotations and gives you effort every time with his intimidating presence. You miss that. There’s not just one guy that’s going to bring that to the table. That’s something we go to piece together.”
On to what he attributes his improvement late in his career:
“My off-season preparation. Last year, coming here in the trade, my whole off-season I was training for playing with the Pistons walk-it-up, grind-it-out basketball. Then I came here and had to make a transition and didn’t get a chance to prepare for it. For last off-season, I got a chance to prepare for the up-and-down, run-and-gun style to play at different speeds. I was able to get my body in better shape to do that so it’s a direct correlation to the hard work I put in.”
And on his national championship prediction:
“I’m going Big 12. I like Kansas man.”