Following day two of the Blazers training camp, Damian Lillard laid out some goals for the coming season. Most of them were expected; like taking better care of the ball, taking better shots, and getting to the free throw line, but he did put a specific number to one aspiration. Lillard hopes to shoot a minimum of 40% from three.
Bear in mind, as Lillard explained, these are goals, not promises. He also stated that he hopes to get his field goal percentage up to 48% or, “somewhere around there.” Considering he shot just 42.9% last year, this goal seems loftier, though not unattainable. I am, however, intrigued by the idea of Lillard becoming a truly elite three point shooter.
Last year, Wesley Matthews was the best three point shooter for Portland (if you don’t count the 42.9% Meyers Leonard technically earned for connecting on 3 of 7) and he didn’t even shoot above 40 percent. The only players in the NBA to shoot as many threes as Lillard did and still meet that benchmark were Stephen Curry (45.3%) and Klay Thompson (40.1%) of the Golden State Warriors.
Curiously enough, Lillard and Matthews stand to become a similarly proficient point guard/shooting guard duo in 2013-2014. With more talent on the floor than they had last season at any given time, met with practiced improvements, the quality of shots taken by Lillard and Matthews (and the team as a whole) should increase, resulting in more efficient scoring.
So while jumping from a solid 36.8% on threes to a top-tier 40+% doesn’t sound immediately realistic, it’s well within the realm of reasonable expectation; perhaps not from us, but from Lillard for himself. Even if he climbs to a more than serviceable 38%, every Blazer fan will have reason to be happy. If he makes it to 40%, every Blazer opponent will have reason to be afraid.