Nuggets floor leader remains at top of his game in 14th season
As the 2010-11 season approaches, Nuggets.com is taking a closer look at each Nuggets player and their prospects for the upcoming season. Assistant coach Chad Iske was kind enough to provide a scouting report, which reflects the views of the Nuggets coaching staff as a whole.
Today’s featured player is Chauncey Billups, who fortified his reputation as a captain’s captain when he helped Team USA capture the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship last month.
The Denver native and former NBA Finals MVP is coming off another age-defying season in which he averaged a career-high 19.5 points and 5.6 assists. He appeared in his fifth consecutive All-Star game after being selected as reserve for the Western Conference.
Nuggets coach George Karl plans to manage Billups’ minutes in order to keep the 34-year-old fresh for the playoffs. That should mean more playing time for second-year point guard Ty Lawson, though Lawson and Billups also will share the floor at times, with the veteran often moving to shooting guard.
Here are a few things to note about Chauncey Ray Billups as he enters his 14th NBA season:
NICKNAMES: Smooth, Mr. Big Shot, King of Park Hill
PERFORMANCE TO REMEMBER IN 2009-10
Threes in transition. Threes from the corner. Threes from three feet beyond the arc. Billups was nearly unstoppable against the Lakers on Feb. 5, hitting 9-of-13 three-pointers en route to a career-high 39 points in a 126-113 victory at the Staples Center.
COACHING STAFF’S ASSESSMENT OF LAST SEASON
“His numbers were great, but he also was our leader and set a tone of professionalism. He always held himself and the team accountable to playing the right way every night and not taking any team or any game for granted. He knows that every game counts and gave us that leadership and integrity to do things the right way night in and night out.”
OUTLOOK FOR 2010-11
“Going forward, we want him to continue to be our leader but we don’t want him to put too much pressure on himself to try to make every big shot, to make every big play. Trust in some of the younger guys like Arron and Ty and help them develop into players we think they can be. We want him to be fresh, so that we have him at his best down the stretch. We know we can’t be at our best if he’s not at his best. He’s got plenty of good years left, but we’d really like to see him hitting the peak of his game during the stretch run of the season and the playoffs.”
IN HIS OWN WORDS: WHAT WENT RIGHT LAST SEASON
“There wasn’t really one thing that comes to mind. I’m all about the team. I don’t like talking about my game”
IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2010-11
“I always end up kind of taking end-of-the shot clock shots or end-of-the-quarter shots that aren’t high-percentage. That’s just me trying to make things happen. Maybe I’ll try to do that better.”
“I always try to shoot a better percentage (from the field).”
STAT THAT BEARS RE-TWEETING
.892 Career-free throw percentage for Billups, which ranks 6th in NBA history. Billups has hit better than 90 percent of his free throws in each of the past three seasons, including 91 percent in 2009-10.