From the moment he stepped into the NBA, Damian Lillard has been a man among boys. The overlooked kid out of Oakland has quickly established himself among the upper echelon of point guards, in an era where the league is dominated by elite point guard talent. Lillard is an explosive scorer with phenomenal versatility. He can blow by you or create enough space to a get shot up from anywhere on the floor. While not as accurate as Stephen Curry, his ability to create a look from three is reminiscent of Curry. But perhaps what makes Lillard such a special talent is not entirely physical; his heart is as big as anyone’s and he has a great motor. However, Lillard’s biggest upside comes in the clutch. The man is cold-blooded. In fact, one could argue he is easily as reliable as Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony late in the game. He has done it time after time, and he has only two seasons of experience under his belt. The entire world of basketball remembers his most recent act of heroism.
Lillard is a phenomenal scorer, a solid passer, and a reliable player down the stretch. However, there are two sides of basketball, and he isn’t particularly good on that other side: defense. Lillard is nearly as bad defensively as he is good offensively. The most disappointing and frustrating thing about it is that Damian Lillard is no Steve Nash. He isn’t utterly slow or weaker than the average point guard (with no disrespect to one of the greatest passers of all-time, Steve Nash). In fact, he has exceptional speed and is one of the stronger point guards in the league. There is no excuse for Lillard to be a bad defender. Despite that, far too many guards seem to blow by Lillard with ease. This needs to come to an end.
Damian Lillard is already among the best of the best at his position. He has already become one of the most reliable scorers in the league. He is a leader. He is a force. But most importantly, he is not the future; he is now. Lillard needs to take the next step towards greatness. If he can keep doing what he has done so well on offense, and lock up his opposition, not only can he catapult his team towards further success, but he can also become the player everyone hates playing against the most. He lights you up and shuts you down? Now that’s greatness. Take the next step, Dame.