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NBA Draft 2012: Damian Lillard, Future Sun?

NBA Draft 2012: Damian Lillard, Future Sun?

I have been a big fan of Lillard for the past few months as a player in potentially towards the end of the first round. For the first time, the nation’s leading scorer is being thought of as a possible lottery pick. With Lillard now considered the best Point Guard in the 2012 draft, the Suns may be one of the teams with most interest in the 6-2 guard from Weber State.

SEASON

GMS

MIN

PTS

REB

AST

TO

A/T

STL

BLK

PF

FG%

FT%

3P%

2011-12

26

33.8

24.5

5.3

3.9

2.2

1.76

1.4

0.2

1.9

.478

.887

.448

2010-11

10

28.5

17.7

3.8

3.3

2.8

1.18

1.4

0.2

2.3

.438

.857

.345

2009-10

31

34.3

19.9

4.0

3.6

2.4

1.51

1.1

0.1

1.9

.431

.853

.393

These are his stats from his first 3 years at Weber State (albeit in the Big Sky conference) and it is hard to find many faults with these besides the lack of assists. Compare these stats with those from Jimmer Fredette’s Senior numbers at BYU below.

Statistics

G

FG%

3P%

FT%

Tot.

Avg.

Asst

Bl

St

Tot.

Avg.

2010-2011

37

45.2

39.6

89.4

127

3.4

4.3

0.0

1.3

1068

28.9

More after the jump......

“NBA Comparison: Ramon Sessions/Eric Maynor

Strengths:
Late blooming 6’2 PG with ideal size and strength for the position … A standout scorer with the ability to knock down shots as well as strong penetration ability … Has a pretty pull up off the dribble and has range well past NBA 3 point ... Also has an effective catch and shoot … Excels at three point shooting: (39%) on a high volume of shots ... Quality ball handler ... Polished one on one skills … Nice quickness: Shows a strong ability to get by his man to the rim … Has the ability to use both hands on the drive … Also shows a developing floater in the lane when his drives get cut off by big men in the paint … Gets to the line well where he’s a quality free throw shooter (85%) … Shows a the ability to run a team and get his shots within the flow of the offense … Quality pick and roll player … Wants the ball at the end of games, and steps up to the challenge when the game is on the line …

Weaknesses: Very good from outside and driving to the rim, but needs to improve his midrange game … Solid athlete, though not extraordinary … Assist to turnover ratio is good but could stand to improve 1.5-to-1 … Gets a little careless with the ball at times … Playing at Weber State, he will have to go above and beyond to get the recognition and respect he deserves … It is also questionable how much development/improvement he can make playing against inferior competition on a regular basis … Struggled down the stretch of the season in big games with his decision making. Will need to show that he can be a steadying influence and has the ability to elevate his game in big games situations … Makes better decisions in the half court than full. Will need to become better on the break … “

Via nbadraft.net this was written in 2010 after his freshman year. I’m not sure how accurate those comparisons are, but Lillard called himself a more athletic Jimmer and I would tend to agree with that.

Obviously no one is sure where he will end up but I will list where a few sites have him going:

ESPN.com: 13(Top 100), 9(Mock Draft)

Nbadraft.net: 22

Draftexpress.com: 18

These guys know more than me but I would say he will be drafted in the 11-15 range.

At the moment, it looks like the Suns will be drafting in the 9-12 range. Lillard will almost certainly be on the board then (provided Utah don’t pick him with Golden States’ pick), but so will some of the Suns presumed targets such as Shooting Guards Brad Beal and Jeremy Lamb. A signing of Aaron Brooks will change the Suns willingness to draft a point guard however.

Lillard would appear to be NBA ready and looks as if he has the ability to defend NBA guards. He is a pure shooter, 48 FG%, 45 3P% and 88 FT% are close to Steve Nash numbers, those numbers won’t translate in his first few years in the league but he has certainly shown the potential to be a very good point guard someday. He is also very confident, mature and well spoken. If Lillard was to play 20 minutes a game for two years behind Nash and continue to improve, he could be a very good starting point guard once Nash decides to call it a day on his career.

Draftexpress have a great analysis of Lillard here: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Damian-Lillard-6152/ , this is particularly impressive; “ he actually ranks #1 amongst all NCAA point guard prospects terms of turnovers per possession, coughing the ball up on just 10% of his possessions.” With all the problems our back up PG's have had turning the ball over, this would be a breath of fresh air.

Could Lillard be the heir to Steve Nash? It is possible, but if the Suns trade for a pick later in the draft they could target Kendall Marshall, Tony Wroten, Marquis Teague or Myack Kabongo. Free agency could be an option with DJ Augustin, Goran Dragic, Jerryd Bayless and Aaron Brooks available. But Lillard would appear to me to be the best long term option compared to all these guys.

Check out some of the Lillard's high school highlights here, some Weber State highlights here and an in depth interview here

Like I have said, Lillard won’t be the only guy on the Suns’ radar on draft night; Perry Jones out of Baylor is dropping down mock drafts lately with his inconsistent play. Brad Beal and Jeremy Lamb both have potential to be great scorers in the NBA and Meyers Leonard from Illinois could be a nice backup for Gortat.

The 2nd round – The Suns currently do not have a 2nd round draft pick after it was traded to Atlanta for Josh Childress, but if the Suns do manage to acquire a 2nd round pick there are few guys they may be interested in.

Scott Machado, PG, Iona – 6-1, 180: His lack of athleticism and pretty low ceiling has made him fall to the 2nd round but his incredible floor vision and passing which led to him leading the nation in assists (10.1) means he could contribute to a team straight away.

Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga – 7-0, 247: A 7 footer who doesn’t rebound great (6.5rpg) may remind you of a certain someone already on the Suns roster but Sacre is a very solid post player and a solid shooter from 10-14 feet. He is also a pretty good defender and shot blocker, but like Machado he lacks athleticism and potential. With Lopez heading for Free agency, adding another big man can’t hurt.

Tu Holloway, PG, Xavier – 6-0, 185: The senior from Xavier is a very good all round point guard, averaging 17.3ppg and 5.6apg. He relies a bit too much on his average jumpshot so his offense may struggle at the next level. He is a good distributor and could very well be a rotation player straight away in the NBA.

Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, Czech Republic – 6-7, 210: Satoransky is not defiantly entering the draft but if he does, he will probably be an early 2nd round pick. He has fantastic size and athleticism for a point guard but he is not a great shooter from deep (30 3PT%), and he has no real shot of the dribble. I’m not crazy about this guy, he probably isn’t NBA ready but has lots of potential. I would rather see us take Machado or Holloway.


Thanks for reading ;)

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