Greatest free agency signings in NBA history: 7. Chauncey Billups- Detroit Pistons, 2002
If by chance you only know Chauncey Billups from having to endure Paul Pierce’s awful takes on ESPN, here’s a small sampling of what made him so great. At the end of it, you’ll probably think he’s the most clutch man to ever walk the earth:
Of course, there was more to Billups than a bunch of game-winning buzzer beaters. He also burned defenses with his ability to create space off the dribble and either finish at the hoop or stop on a dime and elevate for a jumper. He could also punish the defense for paying too much attention to him by finding an open teammate or by creating an opening with head fakes and other deceptive moves.
It took a while for Billups to optimize his game, as suited up for five teams in four years before the Pistons signed him in 2002 after he showed some promise in his final year with the Timberwolves.
From there, Billups took off. He averaged 18.5 points and 4.4 assists in his first season in Detroit, helping the Pistons win 50 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
That turned out to be the appetizer to what would come for Billups and the Pistons in 03-04; he posted averages of 17.2 points and 5.8 dimes with a 55.0 true shooting percentage, but he increased his WS/48 from .198 in the regular season to .203 in the playoffs as he and the Pistons smothering defense guided the team to its first Finals appearance since the “Bad Boy” era.
Once they got there, they were tasked with taking down the supercharged Lakers. But thanks in part to Billups’ 21.0 points and .509/.471/.929 shooting line, the Pistons dispatched of LA in five games to claim the franchise’s third championship with Billups taking home Finals MVP. Altogether, Billups averaged 16.5 points and 6.2 assists with a 20.7 PER and .217 WS/48.