This question has been asked for the past 3 years; `Is there a case for Damian `Dame` Lillard to be named among the elite Point Guards in the league?`
Lillard has proved on so many occasions that he deserves to be ranked in that space. Some might not agree with me but let’s really look at his stats and his game play over the years.
Lillard joined the NBA in 2012 after being selected by Portland with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft and he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award by unanimous decision. In that rookie year he posted 23 points and 11 assists in his debut game in the win over the Lakers - he was then only the third player in NBA history with at least 20 points and 10 assists in their NBA debut. His 11 assists tallied in the opener were the most by an NBA rookie in his first game since Jason Kidd (11) in 1994, and the most by a Trail Blazer in his NBA debut, all-time. A star was born in the NBA and the city of Portland knew they had a star in the making.
He made a career-high 15 field goals and a Trail Blazer rookie-record of seven 3-pointers on January 11 2013 against the Golden State Warriors, where he finished with 37 points, six rebounds and four assists. In the All-Star game of February 2013 he became the first Trail Blazer to win an event at the NBA All-Star Weekend, winning the Skills Challenge. He also participated in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend and finished with 18 points, three rebounds and five assists in a game-high 28 minutes.
Game after game alongside his partner C.J McCollum, they have formed one of the best back court partnerships in the NBA. We need to give respect to this man. Dame`s career to this point has shown that he is an elite Point Guard. What he has done so far in his career is incredible. Through the first five years Dame D.O.L.L.A is only the 10th person in NBA history to rack up 8,000 points and 2,000 points.
I will easily rank him number 5 behind Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving. Among the “all-offense but no defense” point guards, Lillard could very well be the best heading into his age 28 season, and if he can help the Blazers build even a passable defense, Lillard could very well be considered one of 10 ten best players in the league next year.
In his fifth season with the Blazers, Lillard averaged 27.0 points, 5.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds while posting a career-high 58.6 True Shooting Percentage. This year, Portland will have to be at their best from the start to even make the playoffs, and becoming a cohesive defensive team should be priority. It’s tough for the Blazers to be a great defensive team with their current roster, but making it out of the bottom 10 shouldn’t be impossible.Portland ranked 11th in offensive efficiency last season, but with Lillard they’ve tended to be better in other seasons.
Let’s not forget that those 4 PGs I mentioned earlier came into the league before Dame and he shoots 3s better than Russ, Chris and Kyrie, the only guard on that list better at shooting 3s is Steph.
Let us give this young man the respect he deserves.
- written by Ope Oyewumi @ope_adroit