Imagine Damian Lillard and Jimmy Butler together for the Portland Trail Blazers
As previously mentioned, Jimmy Butler would not only be a perfect fit for Dame, but also for the Trail Blazers as a whole.
Butler is not your average superstar. He may not pour in 25 points every night, but he has a massive impact on a team’s ability to win. All of his strengths—perimeter defense, secondary playmaking, slashing—would fill all of the Blazers biggest team needs.
He would instantly be the best interior attacker on Portland’s roster and their best defender by far. He could singlehandedly change the squad’s schemes on both ends of the court with his talents.
His playmaking here is what would make him a perfect sidekick for Dame Lil. The Blazers have neglected Dame’s need for a second playmaker for too long now. While CJ is great at creating his own shot off the dribble, his ability to create for his teammates is lacking.
Butler could run the offense when Dame is resting, the defense is focusing their efforts on shutting down the All-NBA guard, or even to create ideal looks for Lillard himself.
Watch how Butler finds Duncan Robinson for an open 3-pointer here, out of the post. Robinson inbounds to JB who has Marcus Smart checking him on the post-up. Robinson then navigates around a Bam Adebayo screen chased by Evan Fournier. For a quick second, Robinson loses Fournier and flashes out behind the arc. Butler finds him in rhythm and puts it right in Robinson’s shooting pocket, giving the sniper just enough time to launch an open triple. Now, envision these sets with Dame on the receiving end instead. Scary hours.
A perfect pairing has to go both ways also. It just so happens that Damian Lillard perfectly covers for JB’s few weaknesses in perimeter shooting and go-to scoring. Having this tandem would make the Blazers so dangerous in the clutch. JB could operate as the primary playmaker, capable of finding open shooters, slashing for his own buckets, or finding Dame Lil for great looks. And as the shot clock ticks down, Butler can put the ball in the hands of Dame Time, a tried and true formula.
The best part of this pairing is that it’s not as outside the realm of a realistic scenario as the other two tandems in this article.