Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little wants to be the best two-way player he can be

Trail Blazers
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Wednesday night in Portland’s win over Charlotte, Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little showed off his athleticism.

And his maturation.

Not to mention, the connection between Little and Damian Lillard has become stronger the more time Little gets on the floor.

But no, the duo does not need to work on its alley-oop game.

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It comes natural.

“We never worked on it," Little said following Tuesday’s practice. "I’m athletic and he’s a great point guard, so I think when you have that combination, I think we both make it pretty easy for each other.”    

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But even though fans have loved the dunks, it’s Little’s shooting improvements that can’t be overstated.

Through 18 games this season, Little is averaging 51.6 percent from long distance on 31 attempts.

Sure, it’s a small sample size.

By comparison Anfernee Simons had shot 150 threes and made 61 one of those attempts. 

But, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts couldn’t help but point out Little’s growth on the offensive end. 

I think the most obvious thing is how much he’s improved his shooting. He spent a lot of time working on it.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

“It was one of his perceived weaknesses coming out of the draft, was that he wasn't a great shooter,” Stotts added. “But, he’s worked very hard to become a better shooter and it’s showing in the games.”

Lillard has mentioned many times over the season that it was Little who was always in the gym whenever Lillard would visit the Blazers’ practice facility during the offseason.  

The 21-year-old forward is happy with how his shot has progressed in his third year in the league. 

I think I’ve grown in virtually every aspect of the game. I think the most noticeable or most trackable thing is definitely my shooting.

Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little

Little continued, “I think I’ve made huge leaps, but at the same time, I’ve put a lot of time into my game over the summer and throughout the season.”

The No. 25 pick of the 2019 draft wants to become a standout two-way player.

And Blazers fans would, of course, welcome that.In just 66 career games played, there’s no doubt that Little has matured in the limited minutes he has seen so far in his career.

But he and Coach Stotts are looking at his defensive contributions right now.

That’s where the focus is at the moment.

“I think defensively, I’m starting to understand how to be aggressive and also to be a little bit more smart and understand the schemes better,” Little said.

 

While Coach Stotts added, “he still has a lot of room to grow from an experience standpoint, particularly at the defensive end, where I think he has good ability, but he needs some experience in certain situations. But like a lot of our guys that we’ve had here, he’s worked hard and he’s ready to make the next step.”

That next step will be about consistency. 

On both ends.

"Just try to be the best I can be -- I know that's cliche, but I don't want to cap myself. All I know is I'll keep working and we'll just find out in a few years."