by Eric Woodyard / @eric32woodyard

Only three words can describe Chauncey Billups entering his 14th season as a professional basketball player: “Grown Ass Man.”

Coming off a great individual season in which Billups averaged a career high in points (19.5 per game) there shouldn’t be a question in anyone’s mind that this season will be any different. He’s older, smarter, tougher, and better. Turning 34-years-old on September 25th, he’s like fine wine proving to be getting better with time. Think of him as the Bernard Hopkins of the hoop game! Hopkins was also that late bloomer who lost two of his first 24 pro fights including his very first match but later reigned as the middleweight champion for 10Chauncey Billups years and successfully defended his title a record 20 times. Billups is the same on the hardwood. His first five years were mediocre but since then he’s consistently shown the young guys that he’s still one of the best no matter what ending numbers on his D.O.B may say. His list of accomplishments already make a case for him as a future Hall of Famer.

• NBA Champion
• NBA Finals MVP
• Five-time NBA All-Star
• All-NBA Second Team
• Two-time All-NBA Third Team
• Two-time All-Defensive Second Team

Adding to his already sparkling resume, Billups did something else spectacular this summer…

The USA basketball team needed leadership for the 2010 FIBA World Championship Tournament. Who do you think they called? They tracked down Chauncey. The word “LEADER” should be embedded into this man’s DNA, tattooed onto his skin, etched over his grave stone. He’s damn near mastered this aspect of life.

With the younger players on the USA team knowing his leadership role before they even laced up their sneakers for game 1 of the tournament, he was easily able impose his will on the team and help lead them to the promised land. The USA didn’t lose a game as Kevin Durant left the competition non-existent and Billups played his part as the second leading player in points (9.8) and assists (3.1 per game).

Since 2002, Billups has been doing this. Leading a franchise. He’s always been in the discussion as one of the best at his position whether fans have liked it or not. We know what we’re going to get from him each season. He’s going to play hard, smart, and show up in crunch time. I can’t state it any more clearer, this season will be no different. He’s in that upper echelon of guards in the lead position. He’s top 5 in my book.

1. Chris Paul
2. Deron Williams
3. Steve Nash
4. Derrick Rose
5. Chauncey Billups

It’s unclear at this point which team Billups will be competing for this upcoming season. Portland Trail Blazers maybe?

We don’t know if Carmelo Anthony will be in the Mile High City, New Jersey, New York, or the Chi-Town.

What we do know is that Chauncey Billups will be putting another solid NBA season under his belt this year.

The days of “Mr. Big Shot” have been long gone since he departed from Motown, now he’s just a “Grown Ass Man.” Nothing more, nothing less.

Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 11 10
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 10 9
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 9 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 8 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR
David Lee Warriors PF 34 NR 10 NR
Brook Lopez Nets C 33 NR 2 NR
Gerald Wallace Bobcats SF 32 NR 6 NR
Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 31 29 7 8
Tony Parker Spurs PG 30 15 9 3
Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 29 13 9 3
Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 28 44 5 9
Josh Smith Hawks PF 27 40 8 13
Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 26 26 6 7
Al Jefferson Jazz PF 25 23 7 7
Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 24 NR 8 NR
Chauncey Billups Nuggets PG 23 19 7 5

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.