In the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge (groin), NBA All-Star Damian Lillard (doesn’t that sound good?) has upped his game to a whole new level. The Portland Trail Blazers guard has averaged 30.3 points and 6.0 assists per game over the last three contests. Perhaps more impressive is the efficiency with which he has reached those figures. Lillard is shooting 53.0 percent overall, 50.0 percent from deep, and 92.9 percent from the free throw line.
February 19th (SAS): 31 points, 6 assists, 13-21 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4-5 FT
February 21st (UTA): 28 points, 7 assists, 11-28 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-4 FT
February 23rd (MIN): 32 points, 5 assists,11-17 FG, 5-8 3PT, 5-5 FT
Lillard only played 30 minutes last night, because of foul trouble, otherwise those numbers would be even gaudier. It’s clear that he has the confidence and ability to run a team as the sole leader on the court if need be. He has altered his game to prioritize the rim over the free throw line. When Aldridge returns, Lillard’s numbers will inevitably deflate, but the evolution of his slashing game will ideally remain.
Of particular note, is his performance against the Spurs in which he played the best interior basketball I’ve seen from him in his young career. It honestly convinced me that his overall ceiling may be a tick higher than the already lofty one I had anticipated. The way Lillard operates without Aldridge has turned familiar Trail Blazers misfortune into a mini-highlight of Portland’s season.