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.

Weber State

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.

Comments (11)

  1. He sure seems like a no conscience scorer. Exactly what the raptors need, some with balls to handle the ball

  2. I’m on of the people who think Lillard’s numbers are higher than they really seem and that he gets far too much credit for his stats even though he played in the Big Sky conference. The competition level is far greater in better conferences like the Big East, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, etc than the Big Sky and it’s not even close.

    Add in the fact that he’s only played one Top-25 team in his NCAA career, (UNLV in 2009, also shot 2-13 in that game) and also hasn’t played in the NCAA tournament- makes him an even harder player to evaluate IMO.

    Not saying Lillard is not going to be a good NBA player, but I think the numbers are deceiving. Personally, I don’t see the Blazers passing on him though. They need a point guard more than anyone else in the lottery. I’d still say he ends up there.

    • At 8, do you not believe Lillard to be the best pg available? That’s assuming he does fall that far, and Portland does seem to have a large need for him. The fact that Lillard performed extremely well during his workouts may also play a part in where he lands. Lillard has a great attitude and work ethic, allowing him to mesh well with the current roster. His skills would fit our needs well and we could potentially see him playing 1 -2 with bayless? We have seen this before with Jose and Bayless, so why not Lillard and Bayless. Although they would be undersized, it would inject energy into our back court, something we desperately need and cannot get out of Jose. Like many others I am extremely high on Lillard. His results at the combine also add more intrique to what type of player he may become, perhaps a Russel with range?

      • The best PG available? It’s debatable, but I still like Marshall better and think he has more potential of the two. But best player available at 8th will depend purely on who’s available, obviously.

        Bayless and Lillard are too similar of players I think. I don’t think they would compliment each other very well playing at the same time.

        But I do like the idea of Lillard running the second unit if it meant that Bayless could finally get his chance at the starting job.

        • I see the similarities of Bayless and Lillard and that is a valid point. Bayless getting his chance to start could potential give both Jerryd and the Raptors the chance they both needed. With Nash now in the equation, Jerryd’s chance may once again be halted.

  3. On another note. Curious to know why people support the idea of Damian Lillard being the new starting PG, but are not and were not in favour of Bayless being the starter.

    If I remember correctly, people complain that Bayless isn’t a true point guard, doesn’t pass the ball and takes too many shots, when the same would be true with Lillard. And by the way, Lillard’s NBA comparison happens to be Jerryd Bayless…

    • While I’m a big Lillard fan, I totally agree with you here BP. Carefoot and I have been wanting Bayless to get his chance for a long time and have criticized those that inaccurately label Bayless an inefficient PG.

      • I’d say draft a SF or a SG and give Bayless the green light 11 games into the season

        • I would still like us to draft Lillard. Bayless deserves a shot at the starting job and for the time being have Lillard fill the role of bench scorer and running our second unit.

          As mentioned the game is full of slashing/penetrating guards and the whole league is really bending to their will so I think having both Lillard and Bayless is not a disadvantage rather just more weapons for a team which is looking to get out in transition.

  4. draftexpress has just updated their lock, now showing Portland taking Drummond and Lillard going to Golden State. Lamb to Toronto, Rivers to NO and Waiters to Portland.

    Draftexpress has been much more hesitant to put Waiters in the top 10 than most other mocks over the past several weeks and I haven’t seen many others (if any at all) that have GS taking Lillard so take it for what it’s worth. Based purely on the mocks I’ve scoured, it seems everyone believes TO will be picking one of Lillard, Waiters or Lamb, depending on what happens ahead of them. But it’s really just speculation, no one other than BC et al really know what they are thinking.

    • Lamb looks reluctant to take it to the rack on a regular basis and DeRozan already burns me when he stops attacking.

      If not Lillard I like PJIII or Harkless.

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