Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups is set to enter his first season as an NBA head coach with just one season of assistant coaching experience under his belt. In a recent piece for The Athletic, writer Jason Quick detailed how Billups jumped into his new career a little over a year ago during a personal coaching boot camp with Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue.
During the opening weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Billups hosted Lue—a long-time friend—and a few other basketball peers at his Denver home for six weeks to teach him the behind-the-scenes aspects of coaching. Quick said the daily four-to-five hour sessions of film study and philosophy made Billups more experienced than his resume would indicate.
Those six weeks at his home with Lue were an incredible foundation.
“It propelled him to be where he is today because he had a longer time to work on all that stuff — learning how to draw the plays up, learning the plays, all the different defenses and everything,” Lue said. “For that six weeks, we worked hard and grinded.”
Lue, and other head coaches, had tried to pry Billups into coaching in the past, but he had opted to follow a path that could lead to a front office position. Billups explained that once he realized a good executive is hands-off, he started to consider other paths.
“When you sit in the seat of Neil (Olshey), Jon (Horst) or Joe D., you have to allow the coach the opportunity to really touch the guys every day; pour into them every day, every day,” Billups said. “That’s what you are hiring him to do. You have to be on the back burner. If things slip through the cracks, then you clean it up. I feel like my best gift is every day, every day. That’s when I began to think maybe I should go the other way.”
Along with Lue’s coaching boot camp, former Clippers head coach Doc Rivers allowed Billups to observe team meetings and practices once NBA play resumed in the Bubble. The experience eventually led to Billups joining the Clippers as an assistant coach on Lue’s staff the following season after Rivers departed.
Now in his new role as Blazers head coach, Billups faces the daunting task of fixing one of the league’s worst defenses. Quick said Billups plans to do so by relying on assistants Scott Brooks and Roy Rogers, but also by commanding accountability from himself and his players.
Billups says it is a two-way street with defense. If you give him effort, and the results aren’t there, then it is incumbent upon him to make changes schematically. But there has to be effort.
You can read Quick’s full piece here.