It’s not often that the smallest player on the court also resides as its most feared. But for Portland Trail Blazers megastar Damian Lillard, it’s become an almost everyday occurrence. In the era of talk shows and pods, peers have long discussed not only how difficult it is to cover Lillard, but also the struggles of preparing for him.
On this week’s “Old Man and the Three” with J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter, Sacramento Kings guard and 2020 first-round pick Tyrese Haliburton elaborated on two players that humbled him. To the surprise of no one, he mentioned an exchange he had with his coach about the inevitable task of bottling up Damian Lillard.
"Haliburton: “We played the Trail Blazers the other day. They beat us bad, and then they played us again. Dame … they told me the pick-up spot was 40 (feet) like, pick him up from 40″. He shot it from half court. Coach was like (shakes head) … and I was like ‘Coach, I know you said 40, but he just shot it from 50. Like, I don’t know what you want me to do here. So, I think those are the two main ones thus far.”"
Redick himself discussed how “unnatural” it was that Lillard was able to shoot from such a distance, and offered his own story as well.
"Redick: “I remember guarding Dame, and we went over that. Like, you know, the pick-up point is like six or seven steps outside the arc, and you know he comes down on the delayed transition, and I feel like I’m in decent position. He just pulls three feet from where I’m at. And there’s been a couple articles about this, and he’s developed that range.But it’s weapon that I just like, it doesn’t make sense to me. Like, I don’t think a lot of us, when we go to the gym and we get shots up, like we’re practicing the 40-footer, but apparently he is, and we all need to pay attention to what he’s doing.”"
Players young and old have discussed how tough it is to guard Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard. On “The Old Man and the Three,” Tyrese Haliburton became the newest member of that group.
Oftentimes, when players are discussing Damian Lillard, they have those two distinguishable qualities: a head shake and a smile. Even the soundest of defensive gameplans or tightened defense aren’t enough to account for his offensive talent.
Based on Lillard’s shot profile this season — already 10 3-pointers of 30 feet and beyond — it’s likely that more defenses are going to be scheming up creative ways to guard him. The New York Knicks, for example, had mixed success with the full-court traps on Sunday night, to which the Portland Trail Blazers can benefit from Lillard’s weapons with a 4-on-3 situation.
Chalk the young Tyrese Haliburton as the latest (but certainly not the last) player to recognize the defensive attention Lillard commands. Over the summer, the list ranged from Los Angeles Lakers All-Star big Anthony Davis, to even Haliburton’s teammate and Sacramento Kings star guard De’Aaron Fox.
The rest of the episode has been linked above. Among these topics, Redick and Haliburton discussed the uniqueness of the 2020 NBA Draft class and the Rookie of the Year chatter to follow, among much else. The episode also saw an appearance from Pelicans guard Josh Hart.