We’re down to our final two RaptorBlog Draft Profiles, and up next is a guy I’ve been high on for a while now, Weber State point guard and scoring machine Damian Lillard.
Damian Lillard – PG – 6’2.75″, 189 lbs.
Perhaps no prospect has been as much of a revelation this season as Weber State’s Damian Lillard. Sure, there are still plenty of doubters who hear “Weber State,” see Lillard’s numbers (24.5 points per game in 34.5 minutes per game) and claim it’s nothing more than a mirage, the product of a pretty good but not great prospect dominating younger and weaker competition.
I’m not buying what those doubters are selling.
What I see in Damian Lillard is a scoring machine who improved in each of his four years in college and who has an advantage over other prospects in this jumble because he played four years of college ball and is a couple of years older (he’ll be 22 when his rookie season tips off).
Lillard scored over 11 points per game while shooting 43 per cent and 37 per cent from three-point range as an 18-year-old freshman at Weber State. By his senior season, he was the NCAA’s second-leading scorer with 24.5 points per game on over 46 per cent shooting from the field and a very impressive 40.9 per cent shooting from deep. He does most of his damage using his lightning quick speed and craftiness (both on foot and in the air) driving relentlessly to the basket, but the numbers don’t lie, lay off Lillard and he can flat out punish you with his jump-shot.
While he comes across as a shoot-first point guard and probably is, the thing to remember is that most of the NBA’s best young point guards right now are penetrating scorers, just as Lillard is. Not to mention, Lillard had to score at Weber State. If he didn’t, the team was doomed. His passing and decision-making are underrated components of his game (he had the least turnovers-per-possession of any NCAA point guard), and I think he can surprise some people by putting that passing ability on display in the Association.
He’s also strong for his size, and while all young prospects can benefit from adding strength before jumping to the NBA, Lillard has the foundation and the lateral quickness to be one of the few point guards who can actually still defend his position at the pro level. If you think about Dwane Casey saying he wants his team to defend and run, there is no better point guard in this draft class better suited to that style than Lillard.
He can score, he can run an offence, he can defend, he’s more experienced than other prospects, he’s reported to have a solid work ethic and he wowed at the NBA Draft Combine. Did I also mention that he grabbed five rebounds per game last season? As of right now, the only knock I’ve heard on Damian Lillard’s game is the name of his school.
No prospect is perfect, and Lillard will have to prove he is capable of running an NBA offence, but from the list of guys I’ve profiled for RaptorBlog so far, no one excites me as much as Damian Lillard does.
The only question now is whether Lillard will still be available at No. 8. I highly doubt he’s going in the top-five and also doubt that the Warriors would take him at No. 7 (given that they have Stephen Curry), so the only thing standing in Toronto’s way is Portland at No. 6 or the Warriors trading their pick to a team that needs a guard. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Chad Ford has Lillard landing with the Raptors in his latest mock draft.