Damian Lillard’s been smoking defenses all season, yet Weber State’s junior hasn’t captured the national spotlight the way Jimmer Fredette did last season.
Maybe it’s because Lillard, a 6-2 guard, doesn’t stage long-range shooting exhibitions like Fredette did, or maybe it’s because while Weber State (14-3) is the Big Sky’s best team, it isn’t as good as BYU was last season and missed out on a few chances to make that big splash. The Wildcats lost to St. Mary’s, BYU and Cal and Lillard struggled during two of those games.
Regardless, Lillard deserves a little more pub because … well, because. The kid’s killing it.
His 25.1 points per game is tops in D-I, just ahead of Creighton’s Doug McDermott, a guy who’s earned plenty of national accolades. And Lillard doesn’t do it by hoisting shot after shot or being a ball-hog. Yes, he used the lion’s share of possessions in Weber State’s offense and takes 30 percent of its shots, but he could take more. He scores efficiently and in the offensive scheme. (He also leads the team in pretty much everything: scoring, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, etc.)
“He’s the classic problem,” said San Jose State coach George Nessman, who watched Lillard score a career-high 41 points against his squad in December. “He can shoot the ball from deep on the perimeter, and he can attack you off the dribble. When you have a player who can do both of those things equally well, it becomes problematic.”
Weber State junior Scott Bamforth says, “He’s not just a scorer. I mean, he leads the nation in scoring, but he’s a player — a basketball player. … He plays both sides of the ball just as hard.”
If that’s not enough, this post from Drew Cannon at Basketball Prospectus should convince you of Lillard’s worth. Those numbers say he’s the nation’s best offensive player by any measure, if not it’s best player.
And, after yet another good night – Lillard scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and had six assists in Weber State’s win Thursday over Northern Arizona — it’s probably time we devote more time to including Lillard’s name among the nation’s best players.
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