TWO of our generations most underrated point guards won’t make any ‘greatest players ever’ list, but the two had eerily similar careers despite their individual pathways to glory. One point, 0.1 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.1 steals and 0.1 blocks were the differences between Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups’ career averages. I don’t think you get choose a closer statistical pair to compare. This one is going to be tough to pick a winner.
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OBVIOUSLY the Gregg Popovich factory helped Parker win more chips than Billups. Thanks in part to playing alongside the greatest power forward ever in Tim Duncan, Parker has four rings in total while Billups lone ’04 championship is the peak of his playoff success. Chauncey had his fair share of great teammates so saying that Parker only had success because of the teammates/system he was involved with isn’t fair. Tony wasn’t exactly a passenger either when it came to post season play, giving him the edge here.
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THIS one is tough to pick a definitive winner. Neither player was known for their elite scoring ability, yet they weren’t scrubs when it came to finding buckets. For their careers Billups put up 15.2 PPG compared to Parker’s 16.2, with both players averages suffering as their production declined to end the career. 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. 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 2nd teams in ’05 and ’06. Neither player was an elite theft of the ball, but both did provide solid perimeter defense. Billups’ however was better than Parker when it came to shutting down opposition players, illustrated more and more as Parker has aged.
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PARKER – TONY had a few nasty crossovers, passes and buzzer beating game winner’s in his career. His best moment though came in Game 1 of one of the best NBA Finals ever witnessed, the 2013 series against the Heat. With the Spurs up 90-88 with just over 10 seconds remaining on the clock Parker was swarmed by Heat defenders and seemed to turn the ball over. He somehow kept his dribble alive and banked in a jumper as the shot clock expired to put the Spurs up 4, sealing a Game 1 win on the road.
BILLUPS – THE 2004 East Semi’s are home to Chauncey’s best moment. You could make the argument that his Finals MVP winning series is more memorable, but if you are making the argument for just a pure moment his Game 5 heroics against the reigning East champ New Jersey Nets are unrivalled. With his team down by three, Billups banked in a half court shot as time expired to force OT. The Pistons would go on to lose the triple overtime epic, but if it wasn’t for Chauncey’s hail mary they wouldn’t have even been in that position. It was shots like this throughout his career than helped Billups earn the nickname ‘Mr Big Shot’.
PLAYOFF winning buckets are a pretty good thing to have on your resume. Both Parker’s and Billups’ shots will go down in NBA folklore, however one does edge out the other. Tony’s incredible handles gave him his, but Chauncey’s was more of a prayer and a fluke. That being said the stakes on Billups’ shot were much higher, miss and you lose. Anytime you hit a shot to tie the game and force OT that’s pretty special, especially when it’s from beyond half court.
Edge: Billups. Just.
NBA championships aside both guys are pretty tough to split. They each have a Finals MVP to their name and Parker has a narrow lead in the All Star game (6-5) and All-NBA team category (4-3). Billups does however claim the defensive honours as discussed above, but it isn’t 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 ’05 Finals. Fast forward a dozen years and Parker is chalking up another W over Billups. Chauncey was a class pro athlete and one of the best guards of his generation, illustrated by his success with Detroit and Denver. Even if you take away the post season success of Tony Parker though then he probably still wins this argument. The Frenchman was a craftier playmaker and ran the Spurs offense to perfection. Another tight compare the pair, but looking at the criteria and the ‘eye test’ Parker gets the nod.