As part of the historic and monumental three-team trade that brought the star power of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks roster, other players, draft picks, and a good deal of money changed hands as well.
Part of that trade included veteran player, and former Nugget point guard, Chauncey Billups. Though ‘Melo is certainly starting to settle into being a Knick quite well, and Stoudemire is showing how good defense can make a good team better, Billups might be, perhaps, the most unsung, but valuable afterthought of this huge trade.
Since arriving in New York, Billups’ numbers have been on the rise, and he has been a key part of their biggest victories – such as their win over the veritable “Big 3″ of the Miami Heat. While out at the moment, suffering a mild leg bruise due to taking a knee to the leg from Dwight Howard in a recent game against the Magic, he might be the most valuable asset to the Knicks organization, and locker room, thus far. Which isn’t to say that ‘Melo or Stoudemire have been disappointing.
Averaging 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds (up from 2.4 per game as a Nugget), and 6 assists per game, his numbers have improved and Billups looks revitalized on the court. Since being traded to the Knicks, Billups looks more like his younger self, and seems to have a renewed interest and intensity in his play. With the ability to distribute the ball and make great decisions under pressure, Billups led the Knicks to a hard-won victory over the Heat, and has made himself an invaluable addition in every game he has started.
From all accounts, he has settled into his role as the offensive “conductor” and has gained the respect of his teammates, both on and off the court. He has a keen sense for how to play the game right, and knows when to take the fast break points, and when it is safer to take the time to allow the offense to reset, and actually formulate a plan of action. When you add this kind of leadership and knowhow with the skills and talents of the likes of Anthony and Stoudemire, you face a tough challenge each time you face the Knicks. They now have a very complete game, on both sides of the court, and the future for this organization looks bright.
But what Billups provides to the Knicks is more than just on-the-court consistency and good decision making. His veteran status and motivational qualities have made him an incredibly valuable addition to the locker room as well.
Having that veteran leadership, from a player that has been around long enough to earn the respect of his peers, is an aspect of the game that cannot be ignored. So while the big names are in town, and they are sure to wow us with their star power and finesse, Billups is the unsung hero of this monumental 3-team trade, already making his mark on the team.