Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard thinks he and Stephen Curry give "unathletic players" a chance

Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard is already a future Hall of Famer due to his on-court dominance.

Where his legacy as of right now is felt has been deep due to him taking deep threes like Stephen Curry.

The game of basketball has evolved because even 10 years ago nobody would think to casually take a shot a few feet behind the line. Now players like Lillard, Curry, Trae Young, and Luka Doncic have that in their arsenal.

Lillard compared his influence on current shooters to that of Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Shawn Kemp on dunkers and players who came after them

For the next generation of hoopers, Lillard is optimistic players will be shooting even farther, maybe even from near half-court.

“It gives hope to unathletic players,” said Lillard. “Not that we’re unathletic, but we’re not Jordan-level athletes. We’re still able to dominate games and have a really strong impact on games because of our ability to shoot and do skill things.” 

There will always be a debate on the eras of basketball. As for the current era, Lillard makes a fair point suggesting this may be the most skillful era. Players today are better than those of yesteryear. It’s just the cycle of life called evolution. 

Lillard is synonymous with deep threes, he and Curry went back-and-forth at shooting them during the 2021 All-Star Game.

During the 2020-’21 regular-season, Lillard shot 34.5% on shots from 30-34 feet and 42.9% from 35-39 feet. To put into perspective how great that is, he shot 39.1% on average from three.

 

Lillard may not get the credit like Curry, but his influence on the next generation of hoopers may be just as strong.

“The range has certainly improved,” said Terry Stotts on more threes across the league. “I still think it’s because so many players on the court can shoot. Dame and Steph are the exceptions that really have the range. You’re seeing so many players that have range.”

Dame and Steph are for sure the exception. Only superstars and highly respected role players like Eric Gordon can truly get away with shots from 30 feet and beyond.

With players always looking for an edge on their competition, it'll be interesting to see how three-point shooting evolves and if deep range shooting becomes the standard and not an exception.