Portland Trailblazers star Damian Lillard has been the best player in the NBA since the season restarted in late July. Lillard unanimously earned the Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games. What he's done has been nothing short of spectacular.
In the eight seeding games, Lillard is averaging 37.6 points (49.7 FG%, 43.6 3P%), 9.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.4 steals. What's been even more impressive is the range in which he's taken, and made, a bunch of his shots. Because he's scoring at such a high rate, teams are doubling him as soon as he crosses half court, some even picking him up full court and attempting to deny him the ball on the inbound. Due to this attention, Lillard has just decided to shoot shots from halfcourt ... and they're going in.
Lillard is 3-of-4 on shots between 35-feet and 39-feet inside the bubble. He's also 6-of-17 on shots between 30-feet and 34-feet — the NBA three-point line is set at 23 feet and nine inches.
"Logo Lillard," is the name he's earned, for good reason.
Tuesday evening, after the Trailblazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1of the opening round of the playoffs, TNT analyst Kenny Smith made a comment that didn't resonate well with the first and only unanimous MVP in league history, Golden State Warriors star, Steph Curry.
“I don’t think you could shoot as deep as him, Steph. I got to see it when you come back!” Smith said while staring in awe of Lillard's jumper.
Steph responded, appropriately.
"love you @TheJetOnTNT ….. but you trippin right now," Curry said.
The Jet is indeed "trippin."
While Lillard's play will go down in the history books as one of the most historical stretches in NBA history, let's not become prisoners of the moment here. Curry's made a career of shooting shots from the parking lot and if we're being honest, if Curry hadn't changed the trajectory of the NBA with his limitless range and his deep 3-point attempts early in the shot clock, nobody would even consider Lillard's attempts reasonable within the flow of a game.
In response to Curry's tweet, Smith did admit that it's been a while since he's seen Curry play because he's missed substantial time after breaking the second metacarpal in his left hand.
"Man it’s been a long time I forgot," Smith said.
And while we're here, I'll go ahead and school everyone on something really quickly.
According to NBA Advanced Statistics, Curry has made the most three-pointers between 30-35 feet of any player since 2014 (45). Not only has he made 45, but that's out of 94 attempts from that range — 47.9 percent.
Lillard is second on that list drilling 33 of 110 attempts — 30 percent. Not bad, but not Steph.
So let's all learn from Kenny Smith here and not forget about who paved the way for this playstyle to be glamorized. From "that's a terrible shot," to "that's his range you have to guard him from the parking lot," Curry's the real trailblazer here.
Before I let you go, take 12 minutes out of your day to watch a compilation of Curry's deepest threes, you may just need a reminder.