When you think of the best players in the NBA, it's a near-guarantee you'd name a bunch of other stars before you'd get to Damian Lillard.
But after the Portland Trail Blazers guard cooked Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder for a second straight game in their first round NBA playoff series, it's time for us to stop underrating the man known as Dame.
Why do we not talk more about Lillard? I think it's a combination of factors. It's partially because he plays for a West franchise that's been good enough to make the playoffs every year but once (but hasn't gotten beyond the second round) since it drafted Lillard sixth overall in 2012 out of Weber State, not exactly a program that's considered a college hoops powerhouse. It's also because a player like Westbrook puts up gaudy triple-double numbers night after night, while Lillard is the model of quiet consistency.
Damian Lillard is in the midst of perhaps the most under the radar and under appreciated career of any modern NBA superstar.
Just an outrageously spectacular player that doesn’t get talked about in the way that he probably should.
Yet there's Lillard, picking up a team that lost Jusuf Nurkic and toughing it out on a night with 29 points, six assists, three steals and two blocks. There was this buzzer-beater in which he completely flummoxed Raymond Felton:
🚨⌚️DAMIAN. LILLARD. ⌚️🚨#RipCity | #NBAPlayoffspic.twitter.com/WtfpjbALsu
What about this ridiculous shot?
Damian Lillard took two dribbles over half court and pulled up and….that's tough man. pic.twitter.com/CgVolAhlwf
He bounced back from a brutal screen from Steven Adams:
Now Dame and Steven Adams need to be separated pic.twitter.com/LIXXi1oiaB
Everyone noticed how he outplayed Westbrook, and Lillard wasn't afraid to be physical with his fellow California native:
Lillard vs. Westbrook 👀 pic.twitter.com/QYOPq3YXdo
Dame guarding Russ 🔒🔒🔒
Game 1: 4-8 FG, 2 TO
Game 2: 3-13 FG, 4 TO + blocked him twice pic.twitter.com/ToWTJ77R8F
That led to these takes:
Would anyone take Westbrook over Lillard? If Damian Lillard were in NYC or Boston or LA, he'd be considered a Top 7 player in the NBA https://t.co/eenEolVysy
In this titanic battle of PGs, Damian Lillard has not only outplayed Russell Westbrook – he has eaten him up. Westbrook turns the ball over w/reckless abandon, can’t make 3s and can’t guard Dame. 2 that point, Lillard is dictating pace/getting anything he wants – and capitalizing
can we start talking about how Damian Lillard is better than Westbrook
Russell Westbrook: Better Numbers.
Damian Lillard: Better Player.
Idk how to even describe this… I know Westbrook might have better stats to back him up… but if I’m a player or if I’m a gm or just a fan, I’m taking Lillard on my team over Westbrook…
All I know is Lillard might take down Westbrook, and in the process, he might make believers out of a lot more NBA fans.
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