For years, the Blazers have been LaMarcus Aldridge's team. Rookie Damian Lillard is questioning that notion with his strong play since joining the team.
To be clear, this isn't to cause a rift, but more about which player needs to be the focus for the Blazers going forward. To reach their full potential, the team needs both guys playing their best basketball on a nightly basis.
The simplest answer to the aforementioned question is that the Blazers need to be Lillard's team.
As the point guard, Lillard always has the Blazers' offense literally running through his hands. He dictates the pace, movement and overall tempo. His impressive rookie campaign of 18.8 points, 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game has him bordering on being a superstar.
His ability to create and bury his own shot as well as get to the basket make him the best option for the Blazers. Beating defenses in so many ways make Lillard a nightmare to guard. A great example of this was his 35-point outburst against the San Antonio Spurs in a 136-106 win:
It's clear from the video that Lillard is at his best when he has the green light offensively. When he is free to shoot and move around the offense, he's a top 10 point guard in the NBA. This isn't just the case in that game, but on a night-by-night basis.
One way to look at this question is to look at how to get the most out of both of these players.
As mentioned above, Lillard is a nightmare when he's the main option on offense. Aldridge doesn't have a problem playing off Lillard and his game fits the bill of a second option better than a first. As long as he still gets a good amount of looks throughout a game, Aldridge will be able to produce.
Here is footage of the Blazers doing just that:
In the video, Lillard dictates the offense and puts Aldridge in great position to score. By playing this way, you get the most out of both players. Another instance of that is in the first video at the :18 mark.
If the Blazers solely played more into Aldridge's strengths, they would have a much slower offense focusing on beating teams in the post. That would prevent Lillard from being able to create his own shots and drive whenever he saw holes in opposing defenses. In this case, you'd be getting the most out of Aldridge, but not Lillard.
Another big piece of why it should be Lillard's team is the fact that it's much easier to build a team around a point guard than a small forward. When looking around the NBA, the top teams all have tremendous point guards or guys that handle the ball just as well.
Lillard looks to be the next among the NBA's top point guards. The Blazers need to ride their rookie facilitator and view him as the leader of the team.
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