As the Portland Trail Blazers begin individual workouts for the 2020-21 season, All-Star Damian Lillard is looking forward to getting out on the floor with the new additions.
Lillard explained how the team has gotten better, specifically on the defensive end; however, a bigger focus from the Blazers team captain is the win now mentality.
But as Lillard spoke with the media Tuesday, he expressed his feeling towards ‘adding help’ to the roster.
“I don’t like when people are like, ‘Oh he needs help, he needs this, he needs that.’ They said that we needed help two years ago, the year before that, it was always we need help,” Lillard said during a Zoom conference call Tuesday.
No, instead of relying on the additions of Robert Covington and trading for depth at center to snag Enes Kanter, Lillard is focused on the team within.
And yes, Lillard considers himself as part of the 'we'.
The 30-year-old point guard has shown time and time again that when he focuses on a certain aspect of his game to elevate, he comes back from a particular offseason a more refined player.
Whether it’s extending his range, making sure he finishes at the rim at a higher clip, or working on his one-on-one and team defense, Lillard always makes it a point to come back improved from the season before.
Last season, Lillard averaged 30.0 points on 46.3 percent shooting and 40.1 percent from three to go along with 8.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 66 games played.
Nobody will dispute those are stellar numbers.
And most won’t challenge that Lillard is in the upper tier of NBA players.
And we know Lillard won’t dispute that.
“I think I’m up there at the top with the best players and I think you all know that’s how I’ve always viewed myself whether I thought that in my second or third year and I wasn’t. Oftentimes, you are who you say yourself to be or you make it a possibility for you to become that. I’ve always thought I was the best,” Lillard said.
But it goes back to not just the additions that will help this team reach the West Finals and beyond, but the improvements.
Lillard continued, “People can say I might averaged 30 points last year, eight assists, had a run in the Bubble and all that, but that don’t mean I’m not flawed as a player or I don’t come up short sometimes or I don’t hurt the team sometimes.”
Lillard also mentioned that he believes he has improved defensively over the years and he believes CJ McCollum would say the same thing about his own defense.
But what Lillard wants more than anything is to bring a championship to Portland.
And in order to do that, the core group of returners need to focus on themselves.
If Lillard, McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic are all able to come back with stronger overall games from this shortened offseason and the Blazers have found that help they needed on the wing, there's plenty to be excited about this season.
Dec. 22nd can’t get here fast enough.
Or maybe it can for the players, but now it’s time for some valuable hours in the gym before the real thing begins.