CHAUNCEY Billups and Tony Parker remain two of the most underrated point guards form their time in the league, both carving out eerily similar journey’s in the NBA. Billups bounced around more teams, but both he and Parker claimed a Finals MVP honour during the 00’s – with their career averages separated by just 0.3 points, 0.2 rebounds and 0.2 assists. For all the statistical similarities between the duo, there can only be one who claims bragging rights in this Compare the Pair clash.
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THANKS in large part to the San Antonio Spurs basketball factory, Parker was able to taste success much more than Billups during their playing days. Gregg Popovich calling the shots and the greatest power forward ever in Tim Duncan doing the heavy lifting led to Parker claiming four championships from 17 trips to the playoffs, featuring in the 6th most postseason games (226) in NBA history. Billups’ lone championship came in 2004 when he and the Detroit Pistons shocked the world by halting a three-time defending champion Lakers outfit. Chauncey had his fair share of great teammates so saying that Parker only had success because of the teammates and/or system he was involved with isn’t fair. Tony wasn’t exactly a passenger either when it came to postseason play, helping to cement a win for the former Spur in the first category.
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IT’S hard to crown a winner here given the similarities between both players. Neither was known for their scoring prowess and yet they weren’t exactly scrubs when it came to finding buckets. For their careers, Billups put up 15.2 PPG compared to Parker’s 15.5, with both players seeing their scoring numbers suffer as their production declined to end their respective careers. Parker did have six seasons where he scored over 18 PPG compared to Billups’ two such seasons. Parker, however, wasn’t as good a three-point or free throw shooter as Billups, but he did develop into a better deep threat to end his career, knocking down over 37% of his attempts in the last five years of his Spurs career. His handles and playmaking ability made him a craftier guard and at the end of the day, more of an offensive threat than Chauncey.
Edge: Parker (Just)
ONE of his generations better defensive guards at his peak, Billups made back-to-back All-Defensive Second teams in 2005 and 2006. Those selections alone boost him over Parker in the defensive conversation, despite the pair failing to have a profound impact on that side of the ball. Thanks to appearing in over 200 more games than Billups, Parker was able to overtake him for career steals, but he had to wait until the 4th last game of his career to catch Chauncey. Even though neither player was an elite thief of the ball, the former Piston was better than Parker at shutting down his opponents, which only became clearer more and more as Tony has aged.
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PARKER – 2013 NBA Finals Game 1
THROUGHOUT Tony’s career his number was called multiple times to deliver for San Antonio and without fail, Parker came through. The shining moment from his storied career came in one of the best NBA Finals we have ever witnessed – the 2013 seven-game epic between his Spurs and the Miami Heat. As Game 1 drew to a close with the Spurs up 90-88 and just over 10 seconds left on the clock, Parker found himself swarmed by Heat defenders and it seemed inevitable he would turn the ball over. Somehow, Parker kept his dribble alive and banked in a jumper as the shot clock expired to put the Spurs up 4 – in the process sealing a Game 1 win on the road. Ray Allen ruined the championship party for the Spurs, but they might not have even been in the running if it wasn’t for TP’s clutch bank shot.
BILLUPS – 2004 East Semi’s Game 5
TO find Chauncey Billups’ best moment we’re going all the way back to the 2004 East Semifinals. Locked in a battle with the reigning Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets, the Pistons found themselves trailing by three points with little time left in regulation and the series locked 2-2. Fittingly, ‘Mr Big Shot’ came out of his shell for Detroit, banking in a shot from near half-court to send the game into OT. Billups and Co ended up losing that triple-overtime epic, but they claimed the next two games of the series to help build the momentum that eventually saw them capture the franchises 3rd NBA title.
ONCE again this category comes down to the wire, with a pair of postseason bank shots that are set to live on in NBA folklore. However, one does edge out the other. Tony’s incredible handles helped him deliver the dagger, but Chauncey’s bucket was more of a hail mary and last-ditch effort. That being said the stakes on Billups’ shot were much higher than Parker’s with the Pistons ’04 season perhaps drastically different if that shot doesn’t go down.
Edge: Billups (Just)
EXCLUDING the five NBA championships both players claimed leaves a very interesting debate on our hands. As previously stated, both Billups (2004) and Parker (2007) claimed a Finals MVP during their careers, with the pair making multiple All-Star and All-NBA outfits too. Parker holds the edge in All-Star nods 6-5, with his selections spread out over a 12-year period and all five of Billups’ selections coming in quick succession one after the other. Neither made an All-NBA First team, but Parker was selected to the Second team on three occasions compared to Billups’ one. It’s not all doom and gloom for Chauncey, with his defensive honours helping him hold his own against Parker in this argument. With that being said, even taking the All-Defense team selections into account, Billups just doesn’t have enough to mount a case against Tony’s resume.
Edge: Parker (Just)
VERDICT – TONY PARKER
THE first season that I passionately followed the NBA was the year that San Antonio defeated the Pistons in the 2005 Finals and if you fast forward to the present you’ll see Parker chalking up another W over Billups. Chauncey was a classy professional and one of the better guards of his generation, illustrated by his success mainly with Detroit and Denver. Even if you discount the consistent postseason success of Tony Parker then he probably still deserves to win this argument, having lasted longer in the NBA and arguably performing better than Billups during his pro tenure. San Antonio’s Frenchman was the craftier playmaker and helped run their offense to perfection for a near two-decade stretch. That’s a hard act to topple, leaving Parker as the undisputed winner of this CTP.