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.

SLAMonline TOP 50 PLAYERSOVERALL RANKPOSITION RANK
PlayerTeamPosition2010200920102009
Ray AllenCelticsSG50361110
Gilbert ArenasWizardsSG4934109
Lamar OdomLakersPF48331410
John WallWizardsPG47NR13NR
OJ MayoGrizzliesSG4646912
Al HorfordHawksC45NR6NR
Jason KiddMavsPG44451210
Joakim NoahBullsC43NR5NR
LaMarcus AldridgeBlazersPF42391312
David WestHornetsPF4131128
Monta EllisWarriorsSG40NR8NR
Andrew BogutBucksC39NR4NR
Yao MingRocketsC38NR3NR
Brandon JenningsBucksPG37NR11NR
Zach RandolphGrizzliesPF36NR11NR
Stephen CurryWarriorsPG35NR10NR
David LeeWarriorsPF34NR10NR
Brook LopezNetsC33NR2NR
Gerald WallaceBobcatsSF32NR6NR
Manu GinobiliSpursSG312978
Tony ParkerSpursPG301593
Kevin GarnettCelticsPF291393
Rudy GayGrizzliesSF284459
Josh SmithHawksPF2740813
Andre Iguodala76ersSG262667
Al JeffersonJazzPF252377
Russell WestbrookThunderPG24NR8NR
Chauncey BillupsNuggetsPG231975

Notes
• 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.