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Dime NBA Draft Profile: Damian Lillard

By 05.21.12

Upside
The big knock on Lillard is lack of upside. Nothing really jumps out about him other than his scoring. He has average size (6-2) and average athleticism. He will be one of the first point guards off of the board in this upcoming draft, but will he ever be able to hop into the elite group of point guards in the league? Can he become like a John Wall or Jrue Holiday? It is highly unlikely. The key for Lillard is to land on the right team in a role where he can succeed. Since he is a scorer, landing on a team where he could play a Jason Terry or Mo Williams type of role would be the best situation for him.
Grade: 6

Intangibles
Lillard is a player who went to a small name school and never received a great deal of hype. He has virtually no ego, which is surprising for a guy who took as many shots as he did this season. But the amount of shots he took had nothing to do with him being selfish. He was doing what he had to do for his team to be successful. As we saw with Jeremy Lin this past season, sometimes those guys who fly under the radar are the ones who are the most motivated and do whatever they can to win. It is also hard not to like Lillard when listening to him speak.
Grade: 9

Combined score: 39 out of a possible 50 points
Damian Lillard is not as elite as some of the top point guards who have came out in recent years. That does not mean he won’t be a good player. One thing is for sure: Lillard can score the ball. He has a lot of question marks surrounding him since he comes from a small name school, but something tells me this guy will be around the league for a while.

Best fit: Phoenix Suns
There are a lot of teams in this year’s lottery that need a point guard. If Steve Nash leaves, Phoenix will need a point guard in the worst way. Everyone knows that Phoenix will not be spending big bucks on a marquee free agent, so Lillard would make sense for them. Lillard wants to go the point guard route and Phoenix would be somewhere we he could start from Day 1 and learn the NBA point guard spot.

OUTSIDE OPINION
“At times last season, Damian Lillard looked like a man amongst boys in the Big Sky – his best was simply better than other people’s best. He missed most of the 2010-11 season with a foot injury, and he used the time off to get stronger and faster, earning rave reviews for his time in the weight room. His range starts the minute he steps on the court, and he shot 41 percent from beyond the arc, making just about three per game. His offensive game is far more than just launching threes, however. He is adept at getting into the lane (and is a strong finisher) and getting to the charity stripe, as he shot over eight free throws per game last year (making 89 percent of his attempts). He will play PG in the pros, and he has the skill set for that. He averaged four assists per game, and was a willing passer. Among all elite PGs in the country last year, his turnover rate was among the best. Defensively, he is average, but he has the athletic ability to get better. He may draw comparisons to Rodney Stuckey, because of the Big Sky ties, but he is more skilled (though less athletic) than Stuckey. He is not a natural point a la Kendall Marshall, but he could be the first one off the board because he knows how to score, and he should be ready to step in and contribute from day one.” –Jonathan Reed of BigSkyBBall.com

VIDEO EVIDENCE

How good will Lillard be?

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