Damian Lillard's second professional season was simply sensational.
From improved three-point efficiency (39.4 percent) to an All-Star selection, from a higher player efficiency rating (18.6) to countless clutch moments, Lillard displayed the maturity and leadership necessary to be deemed a franchise point guard.
However, his play on defense left plenty to be desired, as evidenced by his personal defensive rating of 110, according to Basketball-Reference.
Not only that, but according to NBA.com, the Blazers were 1.3 points better per 100 possessions on defense with Lillard off the floor. In his 1,034 regular-season minutes on the bench, the Blazers posted a defensive rating of 103.8 compared to a rating of 105.1 in his nearly 3,000 minutes on the floor.
What's been particularly concerning is Lillard's pick-and-roll defense, which was exposed by Tony Parker early and often during the Western Conference Semifinals.
"Lillard’s struggles as a defender are vast," according to Hardwood Paroxysm's Jack Winter. "He’s just as likely to fall asleep lurking on the weak-side as he is guarding a primary action, an unfortunate catch-22 that puts Terry Stotts in a tough position."
And boy are the statistics ugly.
According to Synergy Sports (subscription required), Lillard was exposed repeatedly in the pick-and-roll this season, allowing 0.87 points per possession to pick-and-roll ball-handlers. That mark ranked No. 180 among all players.
Consider that Lillard spent a shade under 50 percent of his defensive possessions guarding such play types, and he clearly needs to become a more alert and committed defender.
That's not all, though, because Lillard also surrendered 0.91 points per possession in isolation situations, which ranked No. 196 among all players, per Synergy.
The offensive tools are all in place. But in order to become a dominant two-way presence, Lillard needs to shed his lazy defensive tendencies and start resembling peers like John Wall and Russell Westbrook.