MANILA, Philippines – The NBA has clearly changed over the past few years. From being a game where a skilled big man was a necessity, teams in the league today prioritize speed and outside shooting, with the defending champion Golden State Warriors being the best example after starting 6-foot-7 Draymond Green at center in last year’s NBA Finals.
The way the NBA is played today favors Portland Trail Blazers all-star Damian Lillard, who used his outside shot as a premier weapon to averaging a career-high 25.1 points to go with 6.8 assists and 4 rebounds a game this past NBA season.
The 25-year-old Lillard, who attempted 8.1 3-pointers a game and hit an average of 38%, agrees that with the way basketball is played today, playing the guard position is advantageous.
“Right now, I think it’s a guard’s game just because you see so much pick and roll, so much transition, a lot of decision making, [and] the pace of the game,” he said on Tuesday, June 14.
Lillard visited Manila for the second time in his career this week, this time coming for Adidas as it promotes his new signature shoe.
Speaking at the Kerry Sports Gym in Shangri-La at the Fort during a press conference, Lillard however did add that having a reliable big man is still integral to a team’s success.
“I think it’s also important to have bigs with the right kinds of skills to go with the guards,” said the Oakland, California native who played his college ball at Weber State.
Lillard’s Trail Blazers were one of the best surprises this past NBA season. The franchise lost 4 starters – LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews – and a key bench player – Arron Afflalo – during the offseason and was expected to become a lottery team.
But led by the impressive seasons of Lillard and Most Improved Player of the Year CJ McCollum (20.8 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.2 RPG), Portland finished with a 44-38 record and beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Golden State in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Lillard, who relied on big men teammates Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis this past season, also said that “I think big men still have a huge presence and are important, but I think it’s become a guard’s game.” – Rappler.com
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