They used to call it one of the best draft classes of the last 25 years. Now, it’s looking more and more like Anthony Davis… and then everybody else. Still, on June 28, the 2012 NBA Draft will bring hope, and hopefully new talent to some teams that desperately need it.
As we do every year, Dime will be holding you down with Mock Drafts, player interviews and diaries (you should check out Dion Waiters‘ draft diary), and we will also be bringing you draft profiles for every potential prospect deemed worthy. With this year’s crop of talent, that list is long. Our last profile was on Illinois’ sophomore center Meyers Leonard. This week’s profile is on Weber State’s junior point guard Damian Lillard.
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Best Case: Jason Terry
Worst Case: Jerryd Bayless
Final Comparison: Jeff Teague
(on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being overseas talent and 10 being NBA Rookie of the Year)
We are currently in a golden age of point guards. They come in all shapes and sizes. One thing in common among a vast majority of the modern day point guards is that they are all ridiculously athletic. A guy like Damian Lillard looks athletic in the Big Sky Conference but by NBA standards, he is no freak of nature. He has decent athleticism. Lillard won’t pull a Russell Westbrook by blowing by his defender and dunking on the opposing team’s center in the lane. That just isn’t his game.
One point of concern while watching Lillard was his apparent lack of lateral quickness on the defensive end. One thing to keep in mind is that Lillard did a lot of the heavy lifting for his Weber State team. As you can see from the graph below from StatSheet.com, there were times when he would take over 40 percent of his team’s shots. When a team has a player doing so much for them on the offensive end, it is hard to ask much of him on the defensive end. It is also possible that Weber State head coach Randy Rahe asked him to stay out of foul trouble. Once he reaches the league he will be able to have an even focus on both ends of the floor.
There was no other player in college basketball who had as productive and efficient of a season as Lillard. He averaged 24.5 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting from the field, 40.9 percent from beyond the arc, and 88.7 percent from the line. Lillard obviously will not be putting up those kind of numbers when he gets to the NBA considering that his competition will be significantly tougher, but it was pretty amazing how he managed to score so efficiently despite having to take so many shots. From a skill standpoint, Lillard is ready for the league. There is only one question: can he be a good floor general? He showed decent playmaking skills at Weber State, but nothing extraordinary. Once he is surrounded by NBA players, however, he very well may prove that he can play the point guard position full time.
There are few players in this draft as ready for the NBA as Damian Lillard. He will be able to either start for a bad team or contribute for a decent one (think of a role similar to that of Norris Cole on Miami at the beginning of the year). Lillard can score in every way possible. He may need to adjust to the NBA game a little bit because he will not be taking 15 shots a game. There were times during the season when Lillard took some questionable shots and he will need to get those out of his system once he makes the big jump.