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In just his second year, Lillard is on his way to joining the NBA elite.
NBA, meet 2013 Damian Lillard, who's loudly made a case to be included in the “best point guards in the league” conversation.
Lillard's averaging 21 points and six assists per game on 58 percent true shooting, including 44 percent from deep—particularly impressive since he's launching over seven threes a game.
He hasn't been perfect—he's shooting a terrible 41 percent at the rim, per NBA.com—but he's reaching Stephen Curry territory in the sense that he forces teams to align their defenses in uncomfortable ways.
Lillard's shooting over a quarter of his threes out of the pick-and-roll, and he's hitting 41 percent on those shots, per Synergy Sports Technology.
Typical NBA defenses simply aren't equipped to handle guys who can do that with any type of regularity. When Lillard's at his best, he's the rare player who can force less aggressive defenses (like the Indiana Pacers, who routinely drop bigs back behind the foul line on pick-and-rolls) to completely change what they do on that end.
Lillard's also been unbelievable in the clutch, a big reason that the Blazers sit near the top of the NBA standings. The Blazers are 8-3 in games decided by five points or less. That's generally a sign of luck more than anything (as is “clutch” play in general), but even so, there's no disputing that Lillard is the main reason Portland has had such success in close games.
In crunch time (under five minutes left, up or down five), Lillard is hitting 64 percent from the field and 67 percent from deep. Narrow it down further, and Lillard gets even more ridiculous. In the last 10 seconds of games within three points, Lillard's hitting 80 percent from the field, per NBA.com (and he's thrown in a few game-winners for good measure). That's nuts.