Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard shares similarities with Ja Morant, his favorite young NBA star

Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard revealed his favorite young NBA star to watch on Thursday. And to the surprise of nobody, it's a point guard.

As Lillard stated during a Twitter AMA, Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies is Lillard's favorite young player to watch.

It makes sense that Lillard would enjoy watching Morant play. The two both play the point guard spot and have had similar career journeys to date.

Both Lillard and Morant had to fight to get noticed at non-Power 5 schools. Lillard didn't declare for the NBA Draft until after his redshirt junior campaign at Weber State. Morant declared for the draft after his junior year at Murray State. Both ended up being top-five picks, with Lillard going No. 5 overall in 2012 and Morant going with the No. 2 selection in 2019.

Both players won Rookie of the Year honors and their numbers from their first seasons are quite similar. Lillard averaged 19 points, 6.5 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game while Morant averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per contest.

Their playing styles are where the similarities end. Lillard is a much better shooter than Morant to date, and Morant's game relies more on his athletic ability to generate points close to the hoop. Perhaps that explosive burst is why Lillard likes watching Morant play so much. It's certainly a reason that fans like watching him in action.

Lillard and Morant have yet to play against one another this year, as the Trail Blazers' two-game home series against the Grizzlies was postponed due to COVID concerns.

 

The last time the two squared off was in the Western Conference Playoffs play-in game. The Blazers won that contest 126-122 behind Lillard's 31 points and 10 assists, Morant had a game-high 35 points and eight assists and did everything he could to keep Memphis' playoff hopes alive.

When the two meet in the second half of the NBA season, it will certainly be fun to watch the two point guards go head-to-head again.