Kudos to Damian Lillard for refusing to name himself the NBA’s best. Lillard is in the running for the NBA’s best point guard, but on the Dan Le Batard Show earlier this week, he named Stephen Curry the NBA’s best point guard, but also said Russell Westbrook was the hardest to defend.
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While most All-Star caliber NBA players — never lacking in confidence — take the James Harden route and name themselves the best, or at least the best at their position, Lillard didn’t do that when Le Batard asked him to name the NBA’s best point guard.
But after naming Golden State’s Curry the best right now — he also said Russell Westbrook was the hardest to defend:
Best point guard in the league is … ?
Damian Lillard: The best point guard in the league right now I’d probably say is Steph Curry.
Who is the toughest guy for you to guard in the league? Is it Steph Curry?
Damian Lillard: Steph is really tough to guard because of how well he shoots the ball and he can really handle the ball better than a lot of people might think. But I’d have to say Russ Westbrook.
This is so on point we’re tempted to offer Lillard a guest column at Dime (OK we’d jump at that chance, but we doubt he’s got the time). Lillard is one of the deadliest late-game players in the whole Association and at least in the running for the best point guard. But he’s right that Curry is probably playing the best at that position right now for the league-leading Warriors.
Then again, when Russell Westbrook attacks the basket — especially on the break, or even in secondary transition moments — there’s no one on the planet who combines his athleticism and ability to take the contact and finish. He’s so freakin’ quick, it’s almost impossible for anyone to stay in front of him. Lillard is right — Steph is the best, but Westbrook is the hardest to stop for a defending point (though Steph is 1A on that list, too).
But it’s remarkable a player of Lillard’s abilities would acknowledge this fact in a public forum while also understanding the discrepancy between the toughest to defend and the best.
We’ll go ahead and say it for the Blazers point guard: if we needed a bucket in the fourth quarter — or overtime — of a tight game, Damian Lillard — not Steph or Russ — would be the point guard we’d pick to take that shot:
Do you agree with Lillard
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