No matter how you slice it, 2011-12 was a successful season for the Los Angeles Clippers. They had their second winning season in 19 years, won their second playoff series in the same time frame and were gifted one of the best point guards ever thanks to the NBA rescinding a trade that had already been completed. Solid season all around.
However, the Clippers still finished 12 wins from an NBA title, which isn’t all that close. But according to Chris Paul, those 12 wins would have come from one player, who just so happens to have played for the Clippers last season and might do so again next year. From the Denver Post:
“I tell people all the time had Chauncey not got injured we was going to win the championship,” Paul said.
To be fair, the Clippers did win 70 percent of the 20 games Chauncey Billups played before tearing his Achilles. And according to 82games, the Clippers were 4.5 points per 100 possessions better when Billups were on the court. And the Clippers did beat the Thunder and Heat with Chauncers in the lineup (they still lost to the Spurs though, so I don’t know how that figures in to things since the Clips were swept by San Antonio but whatever this is a hypothetical situation so don’t go crazy thinking about this too hard because it’s not that serious). So I guess I can see Chris Paul’s argument.
On the other hand, haha no. The Clippers weren’t one 35-year-old shooting guard who should be a point guard away from winning the NBA championship. I don’t know if you remember this, but the Clippers definitely played Reggie Evans and Caron Butler a lot of minutes in the playoffs, despite the fact their combined playoff PER was 17.7, which is barely above average for a single player. Also not to mention, they played Randy Foye significant minutes, and while Chauncey Billups would certainly eliminate that, it would also bump Nick Young down the rotation and he’s one of the few Clippers who raised their game in the postseason.
No offense to Chris Paul or Chauncey Billups — lots of offense to Randy Foye — but I don’t think adding Chauncey Billups even changes the result of the Western Conference semifinals. Maybe the Clippers don’t get swept, but I’m pretty sure Chauncey only swings one, maybe two, games. I know Chris Paul is an optimist, but he also doesn’t have a time machine and seems to be forgetting who coaches the Clippers. Barring those two things changing, Chauncey Billups isn’t the answer.
(via I Am a GM)