Dime Q&A: Damian Lillard Speaks On His Life & His Doubters

By: 06.21.12
Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard (photo. Weber State Athletics)

Dime: You’re an athletic, strong, explosive, scoring point guard. What is your take on this wave of points like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose?
DL: I think that’s what’s really helping me a lot. Just the fact that the Bulls, they’ve had a lot of success with Derrick Rose being that type of point guard. Oklahoma City is in the Finals having success with that kind of point guard. Steph Curry, same kind of point guard. Not as explosive, but the same thing and Deron Williams. All of them are scorers but they get the job done for their team and I feel like just the fact that it’s becoming more common in the league, with the type of guard that I am and those guards, I think it plays into my favor.

Dime: Westbrook has received a lot of criticism lately for not being what people consider a true point guard. What do you say to those who don’t really like the term scoring point guard?
DL: What he does helps their team. People say get the ball to Durant…get the ball to Durant and in the same situation he can shoot and give the ball to Durant just to keep it going because he’s the best scorer in the league. I feel like the type that Russell Westbrook is, him constantly being on attack and being aggressive is why it looks so easy when Kevin Durant scores because he’s taking so much attention and people know he’s always in attack mode. If he’s scoring 25 and being aggressive, it’s going to be another person that you have to pay attention to and that makes it a lot easier for Kevin Durant. So I think for Oklahoma City it works and I think that’s why they’re in the Finals.

Dime: What aspect of your game do you think has surprised teams?
DL: I think people knew that I could shoot. They didn’t know how well I could shoot. A lot of my workouts I’m knocking down shots and they step me out to the NBA line and it’s the same thing. It’s the same jumper. I’m not having to shoot it hard or anything like that. It’s easier for me to shoot. I think my athleticism has surprised them a lot.

Dime: Do you think scouts put too much of an emphasis on the level of competition a player faces in college instead of recognizing a player’s individual talent?
DL: Yeah, I think they do because you look at a guy like Norris Cole (Cleveland State), who hasn’t been great, but he’s been doing well. You can tell he belongs in the NBA. George Hill (IUPUI), coming out of a small school, same size, he even broke the same bone in his foot as I did. A similar point guard and he’s been real good in the league. Steve Nash (Santa Clara), he didn’t go to a high major school. If you can play you can play. It wasn’t like I went out to a mid-major school and just fit in. I feel like I dominated the level that I played at. I went to Cincinnati and scored 30. I went to Arizona and scored 20. I feel like I’ve proven that I can play with the highest level guys. I think it’s definitely too much emphasis put on the level that I played at.

Dime: You have the same agent as Gary Payton, Aaron Goodwin. Have you had any interaction with Gary?
DL: Yeah, I’ve talked to GP. Most of the stuff we talk about is defense. He was telling me that I got a lot of game offensively, but I’d take myself to the next level if I became a better defender. So I’ve been working on a lot of lateral movement stuff with Ant (personal trainer) and explosiveness.

Dime: Have any of your workouts stood out to you or have they just been the same?
DL: They’ve all been similar. Toronto was the most different in just some of the drills. I didn’t have the ball in my hands as much. I think that Sacramento and Portland went really well. I really shot the ball. I didn’t miss a lot of shots. I didn’t miss a lot of shots in any of the workouts but in those two workouts I was really on.

Dime: Next week your dreams are going to come true, you’ll be able to help your family. I mean this is a childhood dream. What does this feel like?
DL: To be honest I’m not an overly emotional dude. Right now, I kind of just feel like I’m just auditioning for teams. I’m kind of in disbelief. I don’t really realize how real it is. It seems kind of surreal to me still just because I didn’t expect to be in this position coming into the year but I know emotions are going to be flying high when it all comes around.

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