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Damian Lillard: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook Favorite Point Guards to Face

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 12: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder posts-up against Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers on April 12, 2013 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014

Unlike most parents, Damian Lillard isn't afraid to pick favorites.

In an interview with SLAM's Adam Figman, Lillard was asked which point guards he enjoys facing the most, at which point he name-dropped Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul with an emphasis on the former:

Russell Westbrook. Chris Paul, too. Chris Paul, just because he’s the consensus best point guard in the League to a lot of people. But Russell Westbrook because he’s a killer. He’s always in attack mode­—he wants to outplay you. That matchup for me is like, if I can get the best of him, then I’m moving up. He’s in attack mode when he has the ball, and he’s gonna attack you on defense. He plays both sides, and he’s one of the guys I have respect for. That’s probably the matchup I look forward to the most.

Don't worry, I'm just as shocked as everyone else that Raymond Felton was left off this super-exclusive list. 

Once you stop to think about it, this is a pretty difficult question. The NBA is teeming with talented point guards, making it hard to choose just one or two.

That also means there's almost no wrong answer. So many great matchups exist at the point guard position, Lillard couldn't go wrong, and the ones he selected are two of the best.

Lillard's description of Westbrook is especially spot-on. When healthy, the 25-year-old exerts unparalleled energy derived from an unrelenting need to win. 

Westbrook and Lillard have faced off five times since the latter entered the league last season, contests in which Lillard has struggled to remain effective:

Lillard vs. Westbrook
GPMPGPTSFG%3P%REBSASTS
Lillard538.014.633.830.63.07.2
Westbrook532.825.044.929.44.26.2
Via Basketball-Reference.

Lillard hasn't been any better in the three games he's played against Paul, either:

Lillard vs. Paul
GPMPGPTSFG%3P%REBSASTS
Lillard341.014.037.837.53.35.3
Paul334.721.052.833.32.711.0
Via Basketball-Reference.

Watching Lillard, though, it's easy to see why he would relish in the opportunities to play either point guard.

With his combination of explosion, finesse and offensive range, he's sort of an amalgamation of both Paul and Westbrook. That's not to say he's better than them, but his skill set overlaps different areas of their games.

Guarding each of them is also an arduous task, one that involves constant awareness and affinity for running ragged. It's no surprise the ever-ambitious Lillard takes pride in going up against the best. It's what he will do on five separate occasions come All-Star Weekend, when he participates in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, Sprite Slam Dunk Contest and the All-Star Game itself.

"So I just felt like it was something that had never been done, and I'm capable of doing all the things that need to be done in all the competitions, so I figured why not go out and be the first one to do everything and get that experience?" Lillard told USA Today's Sam Amick of his hectic All-Star Weekend schedule.

Having already accomplished so much at the age of 23, Lillard's name already frequents lists of elite point guards. All-Star Weekend is just the beginning.

From here, it's only a matter of time before another young and talented point guard admires Lillard the way he does Paul and Westbrook.

 

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