Damian Lillard: Is he a star or a superstar?
Damian Lillard is recording a monster season, much like the Portland Trail Blazers are doing. The reigning Rookie of the Year is showing more of the same, continuing to drastically improve his performance, as he started to do during his rookie season in the league. He has improved his scoring, his clutch performances and his three-point shooting. But is he really a star? Where does he rank amongst the elite point guards of the NBA?
The 23-year old point guard has been scoring points in bunches as of lately. In his last three games he has combined for 101 points, shooting at a 51.5 percent on average. In his 28 games this seasons, all of them starts, he is averaging 21.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He is also shooting 41.2 percent from the floor and 42.6 percent from downtown.
These numbers are simply astonishing but Lillard’s essence to the Blazers goes above and beyond stats sheets. He is the floor general of the team. He is the player from whom the offense of the team starts. He combines with his fellow star LaMarcus Aldridge to star things clicking on offense and either combines with him on the pick and roll or dishes assists to the perimeter shooters for high-percentage shots. Just recently he started to show some real leadership skills, hitting a couple of buzzer-beating game winners.
Let’s have a look at some of the fundamentals of basketball and how Damian Lillard uses them on his favor. First of all he is super explosive. He is really one of the most explosive players in the league, he has a very quick first step and he has a very strong footing, especially when he gets in the air for a layup. In addition, he is a superb ball handler, an attribute which is of course essential for any point guard. His shot is well-balanced, quick and goes down plus he has excellent body-balance. That’s how he manages to score those fancy lay-ups through traffic, against power forwards and centers. So he is a superstar already?
Of course not. He will have to earn his way towards the elite of point guards like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker. He will have to continue and play like he does. He will have to deliver with consistency. Nonetheless, at the moment, there is no indication that he can’t achieve this goal.
Also, it’s one thing to be a great scorer and it’s a completely different one to be a true playmaker. Lillard is not yet that type of player. He is not a floor general, he doesn’t really change the way his teammates play. Maybe he never becomes one.
Summing up, we can fairly say that Damian Lillard currently is more of a rising star than actually a star or a superstar. Nevertheless, he has all the potential to become one in the near future. It’s a process. It’s an evolution and Damian Lillard is on the right path.