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Is Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis the Better Building Block Moving Forward?

Dec 16, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to thebasket on New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis (23) during the fourth quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. The Blazers won the game 95-94. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterFebruary 14, 2013

What a great question.

The two most impressive rookies in the 2012 NBA draft class have both been better than advertised, which seems strange considering Anthony Davis went No. 1 overall and Damian Lillard went No. 6.

But who's the better long-term building block? If you're starting a team from scratch and have to choose between the two of them, who's the pick?

The answer is the guy who has the ball in his hands for the majority of the game. The guy who sets the table, directs the offense and leads the troops. The floor general: Damian Lillard.

This isn't a knock on Anthony Davis, but more a reflection on the significance of the roles they're bound to play.

A great point guard changes and impacts everything—the way the offense is run, the quality of possessions, who gets the ball and who doesn't.

Lillard is already one of the more balanced playmakers in the NBA. Not only is he able to recognize the right time to attack and when to facilitate, but he's skilled enough to execute in both departments.

As a rookie, he's averaging 18 points and and 6.6 assists per game, nearly the same numbers as Brandon Jennings, who's in his fourth year in the league.

Right now we're not sure just what type of impact player Davis will be. We know he'll be great, but we don't know if it will be in a supporting role or a featured one. And it's that uncertainty that makes Lillard the choice if we had to decide today.

Davis won't be able to let his defense do the talking for him at the pro level like he did at Kentucky. Despite leading the country in shot-blocking in college, he doesn't project as a dominant rim protector in the NBA. He just doesn't have the bulk to defend 240-pound centers.

Offensively, he took the fourth-most amount of shots on the team his freshman year. In terms of offensive impact, Lillard is capable of completely taking over a game, while Davis is more likely to complement what's around him.

Before the All-Star break of his first NBA season, Lillard has already put up two 33-plus-point games, 27 in a two-point win over the Houston Rockets, 28 in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 29 in a win over the San Antonio Spurs, 25 in a win over the Phoenix Suns and, of course, this game-winner over Davis' New Orleans Hornets, a shot that some players go 15 years in the league without having on their resumes:

Anthony Davis is going to be a great player one day. The New Orleans Hornets should be thrilled with their selection.

But Lillard has the ability to make teammates better and manage the game. He's a surefire stud at the most important position on the floor. Portland got themselves a steal six picks deep into the 2012 draft.

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