Tha Sports Junkies 101

It’s Time To Move Damian Lillard Into The Top Tier


Lillard has been on fire this season, is he solidifying himself as a top tier point guard?

Over the past couple of years, the normally highly debated ranking of point guards has become somewhat steady. The fans have a general consensus about who is a 1st tier, 2nd tier, and even 3rd tier NBA point guard. Chris Paul, Steph Curry, and Russell Westbrook sit (in no particular order) in tier one (although that is the correct order) and tier two generally consists of Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, and John Wall (that may or may not be the correct order as well).

But has Lillard played his way into the top tier? He’s not better than Russ, Steph or Paul quite yet but he’s off to the best start of his career and has a weak Blazers roster looking pretty at 7-5. His elite scoring ability and supreme athleticism is something to marvel at, he’s a threat to go off for 40+ on any given night against any given defense or slice down the lane and brutalize your favorite team’s best player with ferocious dunks.

He’s one of the most exciting and skilled players to watch in the league and it’s come time to recognize it.

Let’s take a look at Lillard’s stats from last season:

Lillard averaged 25.1 PPG, 6.8 APG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.2 turnovers while shooting 42% from the field including 37% from 3 and 89% from the charity stripe last season. Only two other players have achieved such marks since 2005 (the year CP3 joined the NBA), James Harden in 14-15 and Steph Curry who did it last year. In fact, the only players to have EVER recorded such numbers are Steph, Harden, Larry Bird (4x), Lebron James (2x) and Michael Jordan.

One of Lillard’s best attributes is his efficiency. He’s played the lead role in Portland for a couple of years now and carries a majority of the load. Having CJ McCollum as his running man helps make up one of the top 5 best backcourts in the NBA but while CJ can have an off not and the Blazers can still win, if Lillard has an off night, the Blazers usually do too. Last year, Dame’s usage % of 31.3 was good enough for 8th highest and he still managed a Field Goal Efficiency (eFG%) of 49.7% while taking almost 20 Field Goal Attempts per game. Since 2005, the only other guards to achieve those numbers are Steph Curry, James Harden and Dwayne Wade (2x).

Lillard is also an underrated passer with an excellent handle on the ball and good decision making. Since 2005, of all guard players who averaged over 25 PPG, over 6.8 APG, and less than 3.5 turnovers per games, only Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose and Allen Iverson (2x) have achieved those same numbers.

Look, I know that I’m bombarding you with statistics that may mean nothing to you but I’m trying to help you get an understanding of Lillard’s 2015 season, his performance put him on an exclusive list with plenty of HOFers. Notice you didn’t even see Russ or CP3 pop up in any of those scenarios. *thinking face emoji*

2016 so far: Lillard vs Tier 2 PGs

Lillard is slowly separating himself from the rest of his tier two pals. So, guess what? It’s time to talk more stats.

Last season the statistics were pretty close between the tier two PGs but Lillard having both elite speed/athleticism combined with unlimited range is what puts him above the other 3 if they’re being compared side-by-side.

2015 averages for Lillard, Irving, Lowry and Wall:

Lillard: 25/7/4/3.2 TO – 42FG%/37 (3PT%)/89FT%

Irving: 19/5/3/2.3 TO – 45FG%/32 (3PT%)/89FT%

Lowry: 21/6/5/2.9 TO – 42FG%/39 (3PT%)/81FT%

Wall: 20/10/5/4.1 TO – 42FG%/35 (3PT%)/79FT%

Now if we compare this season up until now.

2016 averages for Lillard, Irving, Lowry and Wall:

Lillard: 30/5/5/3 TO – 47FG%/37 (3PT%)/91FT%

Irving: 24/4/4/2.5 TO – 45FG%/39 (3PT%)/84FT%

Lowry: 18/5/7/2.7 TO – 39FG%/31 (3PT%)/86FT%

Wall: 22/4/8/5.4 TO – 46FG%/28 (3PT%)/81FT%

Lillard has been convincingly better than the rest of the group so far this season, increasing his usage rating while improving his shooting in nearly every statistical category. So if he’s clearly outperforming tier two thus far, what about tier one?

2016 so far: Lillard vs. Tier 1 PGs

2016 averages for Lillard, Paul, Curry, Westbrook:

Lillard: 30/5/5/3 TO – 47FG%/37 (3PT%)/91FT%

Paul: 19/9/6/1.7 TO – 49FG%/48 (3PT%)/91FT%

Curry: 27/6/4/3.2 TO – 50FG%/48 (3PT%)/90FT%

Westbrook: 32/10/10/5.3 TO – 44FG%/34 (3PT%)/80FT%

We’re only 15% through the season so this a relatively small sample size but the improvement is visible and he’s leaning more towards a tier one PG than tier two. Lillard has a very realistic chance of maintaining these types of numbers throughout this season and if he does, how could he not be in the discussion for the Top Tier? Out of all guards to ever play in the NBA, players that averaged at least 29PPG, 45FG% and 4.5 APG were Steph Curry, Jerry West, Dwayne Wade and Tiny Archibald. Lillard has to put up numbers similar to this is the Blazers really want to make some noise this season and he knows it. Oh yeah, he’s only 26.


(Statistics via