On Tuesday afternoon inside the team's practice facility, the Trail Blazers officially introduced Chauncey Billups as their new head coach.
Billups, the 15th head coach in team history has a tough task ahead - he has to improve upon what former head coach Terry Stotts built and get the Blazers to be better defensively.
Last season the Blazers' defense was historically bad. The team had the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA last season at 115.3, and was just behind the 2019 Cleveland Cavaliers (117.6) for the worst defensive rating of all-time.
To get where the team wants to go, a run to a championship, the team has to get better on defense. Billups knows it and it's all part of the plan you outlined to the press.
The biggest improvement that we can make as a team is on the defensive end of the floor.
"I think on the defensive end is where we take the next step," said Billups. "Just having a defensive mindset. A defensive mentality just to compete every single day. To be physical and to communicate, things like that. You can have different schemes and principles but at the end of the day if you don't compete and invest in that side of the ball you're probably going to underachieve there. I think that's our first jump."
Billups has yet to build out his coaching staff but he did say that being a new head coach means he needs to add a lot of experience around him. Part of that experience will be someone with a defense first mindset.
As for offense. the Blazers have that covered. The Blazers had the second-best offense in the NBA last season, and Billups still thinks he can make it better.
"I believe we can. Offensively this team was unbelievable. I think we can be even better offensively with more ball movement. Different schemes. Different plays. Executing a little bit better. Playing on both sides of the floor a little bit more and not having to have Dame and CJ bail you out with those shots they can make all the time."
One part of improving that ball movement will be getting more out of starting center Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic is a building block for the Blazers but after the season ended he stated how he felt he wasn't being used properly. Nurkic averaged 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 37 games last. If he can stay healthy it reasons that he will be a much bigger factor in the offense. Again, Billups plans on it.
"I think big Nurk is an asset. I think that he can score more than he has in the past. He's a really good facilitator. Moving him around, putting the ball in his hands. Moving Dame and CJ off the ball a little bit. We got some versatile guys on our team. I really think highly of the roster."
To get buy-in from the team on defense and to get more out of Nurkic, Billups will have to command that locker room. Billups is an NBA Champion as a player and on the cusp of helping Coach Lue take the Clippers to the NBA Finals. That alone will get the respect of players. It can't stop there, though. For Billups, when he was a player it he valued a certain type of coach - One the that was honest, sometimes brutally. It's this approach he hopes to being to Portland.
"The things that I've learned came from so many coaches that I've played for far before this season. I've always responded more in my career from coaches that were honest with me and if I wasn't getting it done they'd let me know I wasn't getting it done. I needed to be better in a certain era as opposed to generalizing. Let's just talk about it. I wanted to be a good player. I didn't want to play poorly, so I respected the truth."
Billups plans to be respectful critical of this plays. This approach will lead to accountability form the players and hopeful buy-in from the locker room.
Can Billups live up to his own hype? We are about to find out, because the new era of Blazers basketball has officially started.