NBA Rumors: The Three Best Destinations for Damian Lillard
The following story was written by Bottom Line sports writer Kevin Parrish Jr., and originally appeared on the website Fadeaway World.
Damian Lillard has been one of the best point guards in the league since being drafted by the Portland Trailblazers four years ago. The two-time All-Star and 21.4 points-per-game career scorer is one of the most underrated players in the game today. The fact that he plays in the Western Conference is partially to blame, given its depth of elite point guards. Nonetheless, he still deserves more national attention and respect from the league.
Do you remember when he made the All-star team as a replacement? And don’t forget when he carried his team to the playoffs, when everyone projected them as one of the worst teams coming into the league last season. While doing all of this, Lillard had a career year averaging 25.1 points and 6.8 assists as well.
Lillard is a franchise player whose mentality reminds me of Russell Westbrook because of how competitive and prideful he is. Lillard has been quoted saying, “[he] would never join a power team.”
Now he may never join one (Kevin Durant also said that before joining the Warriors) because he’s built from a different cloth, but I present to you three teams that would fit Lillard if he chose to leave the Trailblazers.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have been an elite franchise for over a decade due to the owner, the GM, and the head coach; but it’s pretty much safe to say that the “big three” era is over with the retirement of Tim Duncan.
San Antonio needs to make some changes in order to challenge the likes of a Golden State-type of team. One of the positions the Spurs should look to upgrade is its point guard spot. Tony Parker will be 35 years old in May, and he is on his last leg for sure. The team’s backup, Patty Mills, is not a starting caliber point guard either.
Lillard and Aldridge have been reported of having interest with teaming up again in the future. They still have a pretty good team on the roster and a superstar type of player in Kawhi Leonard. The addition of Pau Gasol playing down low with Aldridge is something exciting to think about as well.
Adding Lillard would put the Spurs over the Cavs as the best threat to the Warriors right now. This is something the Spurs should really consider thinking about, if they want to seriously contend for a championship this season.
Milwaukee is a young team with loads of potential, and it is the most athletic team in the league. They have been making huge strides after years of struggling. If it could upgrade the point guard position, Milwaukee could become a serious contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks could really use another scorer. The team has players in their youth, with All-Star and maybe franchise potential, Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
These players are capable of creating their own shots, but are not good enough shooters to space the floor out for everyone else. The team also was ranked in the bottom ten for points scored per 100 possessions last season. Bringing in Lillard would put the Bucks over the top because he would help them space the floor while creating chances for himself and others.
Milwaukee played at the slowest pace in the league last season, and Lillard would speed that offense up, with scoring definitely increasing. The addition of Lillard would make the Bucks a power team in the Eastern Conference.
The Rockets have a franchise player in James Harden whom they heavily depended on in the offensive end of the ball. The point guard for Houston has been in constant flux over the past couple of seasons. They traded for Ty Lawson during the off-season last year, but that didn’t work out very well. Patrick Beverley is a great defensive player, but is limited offensively. Imagine if the Rockets found a way to get Lillard?
This would allow Houston to move Harden back to his natural position off the ball and give some of the responsibilities to Lillard. Harden would have a legitimate guard who could help him control the load offensively. That would give Houston two elite players in the backcourt for Mike D’Antoni’s system.
The Rockets would have a high-powered offense no question, but Houston would still need to make some upgrades on the defensive end. Last season, they gave up 105.6 a game. Houston adding Lillard would be very special to watch, but the team would have to clean up some things on the defensive end for them to compete for a title.
At just 26-years old, Lillard has had some thoughts about joinging a “super team”: “I might have too much pride for that. Or, be too much of a competitor where I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” He also sees the positives in being an underdog, or the David to the super team’s Goliath, adding, “It also makes it more fun. You get to take a monster down, and that’s always fun.”
I will remind you that LeBron James left Cleveland after seven seasons and Kevin Durant left Oklahoma after nine seasons; who knows what the future will look like for Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers in the next few seasons.
Featured Image: (Flickr/James Schumacher)