Damian Lillard Is NBA’s Next Rising Star Who Must Rebuild Reputation on Defense

April 28th, 2015 by Stephen Babb Leave a reply »

Damian Lillard's offense has finally come around. After making just 10 of his 37 field-goal attempts in Games 1 and 2 (losses to the Memphis Grizzlies), the 24-year-old exploded for a postseason career-high 32 points in Monday night's 99-92 Game 4 victory.

"He showed why he is one of the best point guards in this league," teammate Nicolas Batum told reporters after the contest, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com.

But there's long been a caveat to Lillard's status as an emergent floor general: that nagging matter of his pedigree on the defensive end. Making real inroads into a lengthy postseason run will require real two-way prowess—and progress—from the Weber State product.

That was never clearer than in Game 4. Despite the win, and despite Lillard's heroic role in said win, his individual defense wasn't stellar. Playing in the absence of Memphis starter Mike Conley, reserve point guards Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih combined for 25 points and six assists on Monday. Lillard wasn't guarding them on every possession, nor was he particularly successful when he did.

Throug ...

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