2. This would not be Chauncey Billups’ first rebuilding experience
When you think about Chauncey Billups, you think about success. You think about those reincarnated Bad Boys Pistons teams with Rip Hamilto, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace. You think of how he came in and instantly turned the Carmelo Anthony Denver Nuggets into title contenders. But before he could do all of that, the kid from Denver, Colorado had to go through some NBA hardships.
Billups was drafted No. 3 overall by the rebuilding Boston Celtics in 1998. Boston had not made the playoffs since Kevin McHale hung ’em up in 1993, and the year before they drafted Billups the Celtics won just 15 games. Billups and head coach Rick Pitino never saw eye to eye, and before he could even complete one NBA season, Billups was already being shipped up North.
Instead of unleashing him as the floor general he was, the Celtics were trying to move him between the two and the one, which stunted his development and led to his premature move away from the team that drafted him. That experience will serve Billups in good stead now that he’s coaching another lottery point guard on a rebuilding team in Scoot Henderson.
In Toronto, Billups will have seen something much different, as the Raptors brass was encouraging and backing their young star, Vince Carter. That belief in their young talent would lead to three straight playoff appearances, the first of the young franchise’s history. Meanwhile, the Celtics would continue to dwell in the doldrums for another decade before the formation of the Big Three in 2008.
All in all, Billups won just 77 games over his first three years in the league. Before he could win, he had to learn how to win, and to do that, he had to lose. As they say, you have to walk before you can run. Billups’ experiences in those harrowing circumstances make him the perfectly steady figure the Blazers need at the helm in turbulent post-Lillard times.