Report: Damian Lillard Not Held to Same Standards as Blazers Teammates

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2014

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Favoritism abounds in the Portland Trail Blazers' locker room, and Damian Lillard is its ultimate beneficiary. 


According to The Oregonian's Jason Quick, Lillard is held to a different standard than most of his teammates, paving the way for potential resentment and dysfunction.

"But there is some concern inside the locker room that Lillard is not held to the same accountabilities that other players are," Quick reports. "In other words, his mistakes are often either overlooked, or not held to the same examination as others."

Quick focuses on a series of mistakes Lillard made to end the first half in the Blazers' victory Sunday night over the Golden State Warriors. Though he acknowledges that players—especially point guards—make mistakes, errors in judgment can prove costly at this point of the season.

"That last 51 seconds of the first half can’t happen," Wesley Matthews said, per Quick. "And we got lucky, so by no means are we going to let this win mask what happened…we have to value every single possession."

Unlike Matthews, Lillard was dismissive of his mistakes against Golden State.

"I understand what goes wrong and what can happen in a game, so I don’t think there’s really something that I can learn from," he said.

Maybe that's not the ideal response. Maybe coach Terry Stotts needs to do a better job of disciplining the point guard. Maybe the 23-year-old Lillard still has some growing up to do.

But this is all part of the learning process. Truthfully, it's all part of being an NBA stud.

Lillard isn't perfect, but so what?
Lillard isn't perfect, but so what?Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Stars are generally held to different standards. LaMarcus Aldridge is held to a different standard than Robin Lopez. It happens. Coaches may not get on their best players as often, but they also expect more out of those players.

Lillard is young and he does make mistakes, but while his assists are down from last year, so are his turnovers and turnover percentage. He's also is in his second season. Mistakes are going to happen, especially at his position, so he has a lot to learn. A starting point guard averaging over 36 minutes per game should be handing out more than 5.6 assists, after all.

Bleacher Report's Joe Flynn did a nice job breaking down another one of the point guard's flaws as well:

For Lillard, that flaw is his defense. He can shoot the three, take his man off the dribble and run an elite offense. In fact, Lillard might be the most important cog in a Portland scoring attack that ranks first in the NBA in points per 100 possessions.

But the Blazers also rank a paltry 19th in defensive efficiency, despite what appears to be an above-average defensive frontcourt of Aldridge, Batum and Robin Lopez. And Lillard is a big reason for that. He has yet to translate his top-shelf athleticism into elite defense.

Without a doubt, Lillard is at a crucial juncture of his career that will help shape him into the player he eventually becomes. Receiving special treatment that comes with his status is one thing. Not being held accountable or developed properly is another.

As the Blazers prepare to make what they want to be a deep playoff run, they'll need Lillard to buckle down. This will mark his first trip to the postseason, so they can only hope nerves and additional inexperience don't become a crippling factor.

After this playoff run, however long it lasts, the Blazers can begin reassessing the situation and decide whether Lillard is in need of extra guidance and firmer hand.