Damian Lillard, is one of the more exciting guards to watch in the NBA. His ability to open up the floor with his deep range as well as get to the rim and finish makes him one of the toughest guards to defend in the league. What I love about following him is his approach to preparation and the tenacity in which he plays. Staying in Portland through not so great times says a lot about his character and ability to work through adversity. He loves Portland, and represents the organization on a daily basis.
I had the opportunity to watch his game against the Lakers yesterday in a game that went down to the wire. Lillard dominated all night with 41 points. on 25 shots. While breaking his game down, there were so many simple ways that he created offense for his team. Multiple possessions of just changing speeds and getting to the rim, as well as others when the defense took something away and he made the simple counter to get to his shot. When you are analyzing someone’s game it is important to take the most simplistic things that they do and try to emulate them vs. just taking the spectacular things.
In today’s Blog Post I am going to take look at SIX Possessions from Lillard’s game from yesterday. He does so many GREAT yet SIMPLE things that I think a player or coach from any level can take and learn from it. I think Lillard is a fantastic study, and that any player or coach can walk away with a lot of notes and things to think about by watching him play. Let’s get to work!!
CHANGE SPEED FINISH
Lillard, makes a simple drive to the rim and finish. Watch as he just simply sets his defender up with a change of speed keeping them guessing with the drive and finish. Changing speeds is a BIG PART of any successful guard’s game. Look how low he gets on the drive to create separation on one of the better defensive guards in the NBA in Patrick Beverly
SCREEN & ROLL PASS TO WEAK SIDE SPOT UP SHOOTER
Besides being one of the better scorer’s in the game, Lillard has a great feel for the game being able to draw multiple defenders to him and make plays for teammates. Here he penetrates off of the screen roll forcing the Lakers defense to collapse, most notably LeBron James from the weak side corner. Once he sees Not only Anthony Davis drop and get in front of him as well as the corner defender he makes the read from LeBron and makes the cross court pass to Jeramy Grant for the spot up Jumper. Notice how Grant doesn’t dip the ball at all saving him time to get the contested shot off
REJECT SCREEN & ROLL FINISH
Lillard, makes the read from the on ball defender when he jump’s into the ball and forces Damian away from the screen. It seems like a miscommunication to me as Anthony Davis looks as if he expected Lillard to come off the screen towards the middle. Once he sees daylight, Lillard makes the drive and the tremendous finish at the rim. Notice the change of speed once he makes the crossover and begins to drive.
HAND OFF 3PT
As a basketball player, you need to be able to read how your defender is playing you and make changes on the fly. That is just simple basketball. On this clip, the ball is swung and Lillard was sprinting off the big to take the hand off and make a play. His defender decided to jump under the screen. Instead of continuing to go in that direction, Lillard pushes off his inside foot to create separation behind the 3 point line for the catch and shoot
COMBO MOVE DRIVE & FINISH
He puts his defender to sleep with the first between the legs and continues to put the ball between his legs again change his speed and attack the paint. Most defenders are not disciplined to stay locked in and focused and can easily be driven on. Great drive and attack here.
Lillard makes the drive to his left and uses a stepback to create separation. He still had to deliver a dagger of a contested shot, but was able to get it off using his stepback. He possesses one of the best setbacks in basketball.
Like anything else it is important to find parts of a game that you can add into your own or someone else’s game. I don’t think that every highlight play is worth teaching to someone. There are some players that can use unreal athletic ability, size , and/or talent to make a play. I think if you can find simple things that a great player or even average player does you can go a long way with it. Damian Lillard is an amazing basketball talent. He is someone who plays the game with toughness, style, and skill. There is a lot you can take from him without question.
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