The Portland Trail Blazers have been in a bit of a slump recently, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take solace in the fact that Chauncey Billups is their head coach.
Damian Lillard offers an encouraging description of Chauncey Billups’ coaching style that should excite Blazers fans.
One aspect of Damian Lillard’s connection with new Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups got overlooked in the flurry of trade rumors this summer.
Many of the debates were on whether or not Portland can assemble a competent squad around Lillard. But it’s conceivable that Billups, who takes over for Terry Stotts, might have the most impact by bringing a new viewpoint to the bench. On Tuesday, Lillard discussed Billups’ coaching approach, and his remarks should have Blazers fans excited about the team’s potential this season.
As a former NBA point guard, Damian Lillard values Chauncey Billups’ advice.
“It’s a player’s mind,” Damian Lillard says of Chauncey Billups’ coaching approach. Instead of working harder, you should work smarter. ‘Why would you do this when you might be doing this,’ for example. He’s thinking like a point guard when it comes to the game.” pic.twitter.com/sUgJ4TGB7C
September 28, 2021 — Sean Highkin (@highkin)
Damian Lillard seems to respect Chauncey Billups’ past experience as a player.
As the Blazers’ training camp began this week, Lillard discussed his first thoughts of Billups’ coaching approach. Billups’ approach to the game as a former point guard, rather than relying on Xs and Os, is something the former NBA Rookie of the Year admires.
“It’s the mentality of a gamer. Instead of working harder, you should work smarter. ‘Why would you do this when you might be doing this,’ for example. He’s thinking like a point guard when it comes to the game.”
-On Chauncey Billups, Damian Lillard
Given his background as a renowned NBA player, Billups’ tactics may connect better with Dame and the other players on Portland’s roster.
Mr. Big Shot was named to five All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams. He guided an underdog Detroit Pistons team to victory against the powerful Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. Those Pistons teams from the mid- to late-2000s were as complete as any in league history. Billups’ position as point guard was crucial in making Detroit operate like a well-oiled machine.
Despite a successful track record in Portland, Stotts never appeared to elicit enthusiasm from his players. Billups may be the kind of coach who can do this, and it all begins with his connection with Lillard.
Portland’s success hinges on Billups’ connection with Lillard.
Initially, Portland’s hiring of Billups added to the uncertainty surrounding Damian Lillard’s future with the Blazers.
After the Blazers dismissed Stotts, Lillard named Billups and Jason Kidd as his top contenders for the open head-coaching position. However, when news emerged about a sexual assault accusation against Billups dating back to 1997, he voiced his skepticism. During Billups’ inaugural news conference, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey shut off questions concerning the claim, further clouding the issue and casting doubt on the screening process.
There are still a lot of unanswered concerns regarding Billups’ off-the-field past. On the floor, though, it’s critical that he establishes a rapport with Lillard.
It’s not good for Portland to have a dissatisfied Dame. A symbiotic relationship between Lillard and Billups, on the other hand, may lead to the Blazers making the required jump in order to compete in a crowded Western Conference.
How can Billups maximize Dame’s and the Blazers’ potential?
Damian Lillard (L) and Chauncey Billups (R) | Getty Images/Steph Chambers (L), Getty Images/Sarah Stier (R) (R)
Lillard and the Blazers have never had trouble scoring the ball. Lillard is surrounded by players who can spread the floor and generate their own shots, and Portland is rated second in offensive rating.
The Blazers have struggled on defense, particularly in pick-and-roll situations. Previous postseason defeats, particularly against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, were largely due to Portland’s shortcomings in such settings. Billups, surprisingly, is already working on a solution.
According to Jason Quick of The Athletic, Portland’s new head coach is emphasizing pick-and-roll defense early in camp, particularly in relation to the point guard-big man combination. Instead of giving opponent ballhandlers room to shoot or drive, Billups encourages his players to go into the vicinity of opposing ballhandlers.
Billups told Quick, “We’re trying to stop the guard from rounding the corner and going downhill into our defense.”
“I like it a lot,” Lillard said when asked about the new strategy. Billups’ willingness to be more aggressive seems to be appreciated by both he and Jusuf Nurkic.
Lillard has become synonymous with excellence among Blazers supporters. For the last several seasons, he’s been probably one of the two greatest point guards in the NBA, and he told Quick he feels fresher than he’s ever felt going into training camp.
Dame needs to have another great season in Portland. Early signs are that he and his Blazers colleagues are as fired up as ever, which seems to be a result of Billups’ coaching approach.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
Michael Jordan asked a star-struck Chauncey Billups, “What the Hell You Looking at Young Fella?” the first time they met.
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