FanPost

Damian Lillard, who are and who are not good comparables



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The genesis of this entire concept was watching people, including ourselves, try to find a way to understand and describe a player, especially when a player is drafted. What are this players strengths, and weaknesses, what has he really done in the past, how do you encapsulate the entirety of a player in a way that is both accurate, but is also expressed in a way that he generally easy to understand and fit into the most appropriate context. One thing that we have seen a lot this year, as well as in years past, is a desire and effort to find comparable’s (comps) for rookies, and young players. Pundits and the media are full of opinions of who are good comps. In baseball there is an entire field of study devoted to this type of analysis, and every year the Baseball Prospectus comes out and it is chock full of player comparables. All during the run-up to the draft, during the draft, and after the draft there were dozens and dozens of attempts to find good comps for the players we drafted. Our goal with this effort is to create a methodology that can accurately describe and understand a player as holistically as possible, and then using as much data as is available and relevant about a given player, find the players that are the most similar.

Similarity can be viewed a number of different ways, and our approach is to try and create the most thorough measurement of a player we can, using the data that is available. This measurement of the player should consider their statistical performances in college, as well as the player’s physical attributes, and athleticism. The tool we have developed considers 48 different statistical measurements of a players college performance, expressed as averages and ratios, and also 22 measurements of a players length/athleticism/physical attributes, expressed as raw number, ratios, and also these measurements relative to a standard.

Now it is absolutely not our desire to be deliberately provocative; we find that kind of prose and style to be contrived, and simply a way to drive attention, rather than focusing on the subject matter. Our hope is that we are very objective in our approach, and as intellectually honest as we can be. We hope you find our efforts useful and enlightening.

Damian Lillard

If there is one thing we have in common with everyone here is that we like you are Blazer fans; there is no franchise anywhere that we are more passionate about. Like everyone here we are always pulling for “Our” Blazer players to succeed; ok, not entirely true, there are a few in our recent past that we weren’t always pulling for. When we started our study we were amazed at how many people had such dramatically different opinions of Damian Lillard. Our goal is to be as objective as we can and set aside any hyperbole, and focus on the known’s available to us.

Physical Attributes, Length and Athleticism

Here are all of Damian Lillard’s actual physical measurements.

Name

Height Inches no Shoes

Height Inches w/shoes

Weight (lbs)

Body Fat (%)

Hand Length (inches)

Hand Width (Inches)

Reach in Inches

Wingspan Inches

No Step Vert (In)

Max Vert (In)

Sprint (sec)

Agility (sec)

Bench (reps)

Damian Lillard

73.75

74.75

189

5.9

8.75

9.75

95.5

79.75

34.5

39.5

3.34

11.15

13

This data alone is interesting, but how does it relate to other players? Our next step was to place all players into a context relative to other players, expressed as the percentile ranking.

Height Inches no Shoes

Height Inches w/shoes

Weight

Body Fat

Hand Length

Hand Width

Reach

Wing span

No Step Vert Reach

Max Vert Reach

No Step Vert

Max Vert

Sprint

Agility

Bench

Damian Lillard

36.1%

35.5%

23.6%

83.9%

28.6%

55.0%

31.7%

45.3%

75.4%

77.4%

81.6%

75.6%

54.1%

69.6%

46.2%

To describe this data in common language, for all players within a population of about 1700 players, Damian Lillard is in the 36th percentile for height, the 23rd percentile for total weight, the 83rd percentile for lack of body fat, the 71st percentile for the ¾ count sprint, and the 69th percentile for agility.

The next step in this process is to understand how these various measurements relate, and if we can make any judgments using them. In our study we found that there are some strong correlations between the most commonly available variables data (such as height, weight, but including others as well) to other variables such as wingspan, reach, no step vertical, agility, and speed. The results we believe have a great deal of meaning, (the r2 is as high 99%+, with P Values of nearly 0). In other words with other data we can predict what an average player of a given height should have for wingspan, or agility, and determine the difference from a specific player, to give a sense of the players measurable “RELATIVE” to that of another player. For instance with Damian Lillard we determine how different he is from a player of the same general height or height and weight;

Name

Amount greater weight than expected (in lbs)

Amount longer wingspan than expected (in inches)

Amount longer reach than expected (in inches)

Amount higher vertical than expected (in inches)

Amount Speed faster than expected

Amount more agile than expected (in sec)

Number of additional bench reps than expected

Damian Lillard

-4

1.83

-3.23

2.58

-0.2

-0.48

2

Damian Lillard’s weight is 4 pounds less than you would expect, his wingspan is 1.83” longer than you would expect, but his reach is 3.23” less than you would expect. Athletically, Lillard ¾ sprint time was 0.2 seconds slower than the average of players his general height and weight, and his time in the agility drill was 0.48 seconds slower than players of a similar size. The following is a table of selected players looking at their actual measurable, and their relationship to the standard.

Name

Height Inches no Shoes

Weight

Weight > than standard (in lbs)

Reach in Inches

Reach > than standard (in inches)

Wingspan Inches

Wingspan > than standard (in inches)

Damian Lillard

73.75

189

-4

95.5

-3.23

79.75

1.83

Ronnie Price

72.75

185

-5

96.5

-0.25

77.5

0.63

Ben Gordon

73

192

1

99

0.41

80.5

3.37

Mike Conley Jr

71.75

175

-6

94.5

-1.22

77.75

1.99

Armon Johnson

74

195

2

99.5

0.44

80

1.81

Deron Williams

73.75

202

9

98

0.09

78.25

0.33

Jeff Teague

72.25

175

-14

98.5

1.02

79.5

3.16

Derrick Rose

73.5

196

4

98.5

-0.19

80

2.34

Russell Westbrook

74.25

192

-2

100

0.9

79.75

1.3

Austin Rivers

75.5

203

6

96.5

-3.26

79.25

-0.52

George Hill

73.25

181

-10

97.5

-1.55

81

3.61

Jonny Flynn

71.25

196

16

95.5

0.93

76

0.77

Bradley Beal

75.25

202

5

100

0.01

80

0.49

Kendall Marshall

75.25

198

1

96

-2.61

77.5

-2.01

Stephen Curry

74

181

-12

97

0.42

75.5

-2.69

Rodney Stuckey

75.75

207

9

100.5

0.56

79.25

-0.79

John Wall

74.75

196

1

101.5

1.2

81.25

2.27

Marcus Thornton

74.75

194

-1

99

1.04

77

-1.98

Brandon Knight

73.5

177

-15

98.5

0.5

78.75

1.09

Eric Gordon

74

222

29

99

-0.61

81

2.81

Name

Height Inches no Shoes

Weight

No Step Vert

Vertical > than standard (in inches)

Sprint

Speed > than standard (in sec)

Agility

Agility > than standard (in sec)

Damian Lillard

73.75

189

34.5

2.58

3.34

-0.2

11.15

-0.48

Ronnie Price

72.75

185

31.5

2.56

3.29

-0.15

10.49

0.23

Ben Gordon

73

192

31.5

2.18

3.19

-0.08

11.28

-0.38

Mike Conley Jr

71.75

175

35.5

4.68

3.09

-0.05

11.63

-1.05

Armon Johnson

74

195

31.5

2.52

3.19

-0.03

11.25

-0.24

Deron Williams

73.75

202

30

2.4

3.25

-0.11

10.83

-0.01

Jeff Teague

72.25

175

30.5

1.04

3.18

-0.07

11.05

-0.19

Derrick Rose

73.5

196

34.5

5.05

3.05

0.05

11.69

-0.76

Russell Westbrook

74.25

192

30

1.05

3.08

0.11

10.98

0.14

Austin Rivers

75.5

203

32.5

1.12

3.32

-0.09

11.54

-0.65

George Hill

73.25

181

34

1.71

3.07

0.04

12.2

-1.29

Jonny Flynn

71.25

196

33

6.48

3.23

-0.19

10.86

-0.34

Bradley Beal

75.25

202

33

3.95

3.28

-0.05

10.95

0.16

Kendall Marshall

75.25

198

31

0.9

3.23

-0.04

12.03

-1.19

Stephen Curry

74

181

29.5

1.79

3.28

-0.09

11.07

-0.21

Rodney Stuckey

75.75

207

30.5

2.81

3.11

0.1

11.34

-0.16

John Wall

74.75

196

30

0.94

3.14

0.07

10.84

0.38

Marcus Thornton

74.75

194

31

4.13

3.28

-0.08

10.73

0.26

Brandon Knight

73.5

177

29

-1.19

3.07

0.13

10.74

0.31

Eric Gordon

74

222

32

3.25

3.01

0.13

10.81

0.15

Overall, in comparing Damian Lillard to the 1700 players in the Draftexpress.com database, it is fair to say that for a player of his height he has a little above average length, with good wingspan and vertical, but a poor reach. Athletically he would be described as about average, as he has a good vertical, and he is stronger than typical, but his ¾ court sprint time was slow for a player of his size, and his time in the agility drill was a full ½ second slower than an average player of his height and weight. This general conclusion that Damian Lillard is an average athlete wasn’t a shock to us, as Chad Buchanan has expressed the same general opinion.

At this point we are not taking a position that Damian Lillard’s relative athleticism is inherently a negative, it is simply a fact. Athleticism or length alone do not define success or failure. Speedy Claxton was an incredibly explosive athlete, and very much a mediocre NBA player. The last decade of his career Arvydas Sabonis was a poor athlete, and he was an utterly exceptional basketball player. Of course Lebron James is perhaps as close to a complete athlete as we have ever seen, and he is the best player on the planet.

When you look at these various physical attributes, which players are the most similar to Damian Lillard? Here is the list of the top 15 of players who were drafted, or have played in the league (there are others who fit into this category, but didn’t play in the NBA).

Name

Year of Combine

Total Composite

Physical Attribute

Length

Strength & Athleticism

Damian Lillard

2012

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

Ronnie Price

2005

94.47%

94.63%

93.51%

94.97%

Ben Gordon

2004

94.15%

93.63%

91.76%

95.48%

Eddie Gill

2000

94.06%

92.42%

92.33%

95.65%

Derrick Zimmerman

2003

94.04%

93.60%

92.35%

94.11%

Mike Conley Jr

2007

94.01%

94.68%

95.19%

92.78%

Jimmer Fredette

2011

88.09%

88.74%

85.01%

88.67%

E'Twaun Moore

2011

93.34%

94.03%

90.48%

92.24%

Darius Johnson-Odom

2012

93.32%

93.83%

95.79%

92.12%

Charlie Bell

2001

93.28%

95.68%

94.76%

90.94%

Chris Paul

2005

93.13%

92.38%

91.71%

94.36%

Marcus Denmon

2012

92.90%

94.41%

94.05%

90.10%

Javaris Crittenton

2007

92.82%

91.76%

90.63%

94.30%

John Jenkins

2012

92.56%

92.84%

92.85%

93.07%

Luther Head

2005

92.46%

91.28%

89.91%

94.39%

Armon Johnson

2010

92.44%

93.60%

93.13%

90.99%

Derrick Rose

2008

92.35%

94.30%

93.45%

88.92%

There are 4 measurements,

1.) total composite - Which is the average of the physical attributes, length, and athleticism, acknowledging that height, wingspan, reach, no step vertical, and max vertical our counted in multiple categories.

2.) physical attributes - Which is height, weight, body fat, reach, wingspan, and hand size

3.) length - Which is height, reach, wingspan, vertical

4.) athleticism - Speed, agility, strength, and vertical.

As you can see Mike Conley and Ronnie Price are the most similar to Damian Lillard in terms of the physical attributes; Darius Johnson-Odom and Mike Conley are the most similar in terms of length: and Ben Gordon and Eddie Gill are the most similar athletically. In aggregate Ronnie Price and Ben Gordon are the most physically similar.

A number of people have made the comparison between Lillard and Derrick Rose. Lillard’s physical attributes are similar to Rose, but athletically the similarity falls off. Just to put that into perspective the following players are more athletically similar to Lillard than Derrick Rose is;

Luke Babbitt, Eduardo Najera, Maarty Luenen, Luke Jackson, Mark Madsen, Joakim Noah, and DeJuan Blair.

Statistical Comparisons

The next step in the process was to do a statistical similarity study. Now this is one of our first efforts, and we would like this process to be a broader, but simply put we compared Damian Lillard’s redshirt-Junior season (2011-12) to 1625 players who have been drafted, or finished college in the last 11 years, and then played in the NBA. We got our data for this from Draftexpress.com, http://www.draftexpress.com/stats.php, and basketball-reference.com, http://www.basketball-reference.com/. From this study we identified the following players as good statistical comps for Damian Lillard.

Name

Stats Similarity

Team

Season

Class

Damian Lillard

100.00%

Weber State

2011-12

RS Jr

Rodney Stuckey

89.92%

Eastern Wash.

2006-07

So

George Hill

89.98%

IUPUI

2007-08

Sr

Ben Gordon

88.29%

Connecticut

2003-04

Jr

Stephen Curry

89.43%

Davidson

2007-08

So

Marcus Thornton

90.16%

LSU

2008-09

Sr

Ronnie Price

88.15%

Utah Valley State

2004-05

Jr

Randy Foye

89.24%

Villanova

2005-06

Sr

Jerryd Bayless

89.08%

Arizona

2007-08

Fr

Morris Almond

89.40%

Rice

2006-07

So

Jameer Nelson

90.10%

Saint Joseph's

2002-03

So

Devin Harris

91.83%

Wisconsin

2003-04

Jr

Luis Flores

90.11%

Manhattan

2002-03

So

Jimmer Fredette

92.53%

BYU

2009-10

Jr

Dominique Jones

89.84%

South Florida

2009-10

Jr

James Harden

89.37%

Arizona State

2008-09

So

We then looked through the data to find players who had multiple seasons similar to Damian Lillard’s redshirt Junior season, and who also had a high degree of physical similarity to Damian Lillard, to find the definitive list of best statistical comps for Damian Lillard;

Name

Total Similarity

Stats Similarity

Physical Similarity

Team

Season

Class

Damian Lillard

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

Weber State

2011-12

RS Jr

Rodney Stuckey

90.30%

89.92%

90.67%

Eastern Wash.

2006-07

So

Rodney Stuckey

90.24%

89.80%

90.67%

Eastern Wash.

2005-06

Fr

George Hill

90.82%

89.98%

91.66%

IUPUI

2007-08

Sr

George Hill

88.98%

86.29%

91.66%

IUPUI

2005-06

So

Ben Gordon

91.22%

88.29%

94.15%

Connecticut

2003-04

Jr

Ben Gordon

91.18%

88.20%

94.15%

Connecticut

2002-03

So

Ben Gordon

86.96%

79.76%

94.15%

Connecticut

2001-02

Fr

Stephen Curry

90.16%

89.43%

90.89%

Davidson

2007-08

So

Stephen Curry

89.89%

88.89%

90.89%

Davidson

2006-07

Fr

Stephen Curry

88.22%

85.55%

90.89%

Davidson

2008-09

Jr

Marcus Thornton

90.28%

90.16%

90.39%

LSU

2008-09

Sr

Marcus Thornton

88.39%

86.38%

90.39%

LSU

2007-08

Jr

Jimmer Fredette

90.31%

92.53%

88.09%

BYU

2009-10

Jr

Jimmer Fredette

88.69%

89.28%

88.09%

BYU

2010-11

Sr

Jimmer Fredette

86.94%

85.78%

88.09%

BYU

2008-09

So

Ronnie Price

91.31%

88.15%

94.47%

Utah Valley State

2004-05

Jr

Ronnie Price

87.34%

80.21%

94.47%

Utah Valley State

2003-04

So

Randy Foye

90.59%

89.24%

91.93%

Villanova

2005-06

Sr

Randy Foye

87.46%

82.98%

91.93%

Villanova

2004-05

Jr

Just to put all of this into perspective here are the similarity scores for some other players who Lillard has been compared to, and one player we all hope has very little similarity.

Name

Total Similarity

Stats Similarity

Physical Similarity

Team

Season

Class

Damian Lillard

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

Weber State

2011-12

RS Jr

Damian Lillard

95.59%

91.18%

100.00%

Weber State

2009-10

So

Damian Lillard

95.20%

90.39%

100.00%

Weber State

2010-11

Jr

Derrick Rose

88.17%

83.99%

92.35%

Memphis

2007-08

Fr

Chris Paul

87.73%

82.32%

93.13%

Wake Forest

2004-05

So

Chris Paul

87.29%

81.44%

93.13%

Wake Forest

2003-04

Fr

Dwyane Wade

87.01%

86.74%

87.28%

Marquette

2002-03

Jr

Dwyane Wade

84.77%

82.25%

87.28%

Marquette

2001-02

So

Ty Lawson

84.75%

81.23%

88.27%

North Carolina

2008-09

Jr

Ty Lawson

84.49%

80.70%

88.27%

North Carolina

2007-08

So

Ty Lawson

82.14%

76.01%

88.27%

North Carolina

2006-07

Fr

Russell Westbrook

85.91%

79.93%

91.89%

UCLA

2007-08

So

Raymond Felton

82.03%

79.08%

84.98%

North Carolina

2004-05

Jr

Raymond Felton

81.28%

77.58%

84.98%

North Carolina

2002-03

Fr

Raymond Felton

80.65%

76.32%

84.98%

North Carolina

2003-04

So

Physically and statistically Damian Lillard is far more similar to Rodney Stuckey, George Hill, Stephen Curry, and Ben Gordon than he is to Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Ty Lawson, or Russell Westbrook. Below we have included a table that measures a number of relevant statistics for what we describe as his poor comps, and below that another table for what we describe his good comps. As you study these we believe it will become readily apparent how truly different Damian Lillard is from the first group, and how statistically similar he is to the second group.

Name

Stat Similarity

Pts

FGA

2PtA

3PtA

FTA

FT%

Ast / g

Pos /g

Ast / Pos

TO / Pos

eFG%

FTA /

FGA

Player Passer Rating

Damian Lillard

100.0%

RS Jr.

24.5

15.5

8.3

7.2

8.0

88.8%

4.0

19.4

0.21

0.12

56%

52%

0.95

Dwyane Wade

86.74%

Jr

21.6

15.4

14.1

1.3

7.3

78.2%

4.6

19.2

0.24

0.17

51%

48%

-0.61

Derrick Rose

83.99%

Fr

14.9

10.9

8.3

2.6

5.1

71.2%

4.7

13.9

0.34

0.19

52%

47%

1.52

Chris Paul

82.32%

So

15.3

9.9

6.9

3.0

5.8

83.6%

6.6

13.4

0.49

0.21

52%

59%

4.76

Ty Lawson

81.23%

Jr

16.6

9.8

6.7

3.1

5.9

79.8%

6.6

12.8

0.51

0.15

45%

23%

1.10

Russell Westbrook

79.93%

So

12.7

10.0

8.1

2.0

3.9

71.2%

4.3

12.4

0.35

0.20

50%

38%

1.08

Raymond Felton

79.08%

Jr

12.9

9.2

4.8

4.4

3.7

70.2%

6.9

12.6

0.55

0.28

56%

41%

3.09

Deron Williams

77.92%

Jr

12.5

10.5

5.7

4.8

2.5

67.9%

6.8

12.4

0.55

0.23

52%

23%

4.96

Of the entire group Damian Lillard was statistically closest to Dwyane Wade, and even given that it is clear they are very different. In aggregate in comparing Lillard to the entire group, Lillard scored more points, took way more threes, but was around the middle in 3 %, shot many more FT and made them at a higher %, had generally fewer assists per 40 minutes (the number in the second table not the 4th) , and also a lower PPR.

Let’s now compare and contrast that with the better statistical comparables group (all of these are Pace Adjusted per 40 minutes from http://www.draftexpress.com/stats.php)

Name

Stat Similarity

Pts

FGA

2PtA

3PtA

FTA

FT%

Ast / G

Pos / G

Ast / Pos

TO / Pos

eFG%

FTA / FGA

Player Passer Rating

Damian Lillard

100%

RS Jr.

24.5

15.5

8.3

7.2

8.0

88.8%

4.0

19.4

0.21

0.12

56%

52%

0.95

Jimmer Fredette

92.53%

Jr

22.1

14.4

9.3

5.2

7.4

89.3%

4.7

18

0.26

0.15

54%

51%

1.13

Marcus Thornton

90.16%

Sr

21.1

15.5

9.7

5.7

5.7

74.6%

2.1

17.1

0.13

0.11

54%

37%

-1.30

George Hill

89.98%

Sr

21.5

12.6

9.2

3.4

7.7

81.2%

4.3

17.1

0.25

0.17

61%

61%

-0.30

Rodney Stuckey

89.92%

So

24.6

17.3

11.7

5.6

8.8

84.6%

5.5

21.4

0.26

0.16

50%

51%

0.79

Ronnie Price

88.15%

Jr

24.3

19.1

11.2

8.0

6.4

78.9%

3.0

21.3

0.14

0.14

50%

34%

-2.84

Ben Gordon

88.29%

Jr

18.5

14.1

8.0

6.2

4.4

83.0%

4.5

16.1

0.28

0.17

53%

31%

0.61

Stephen Curry

89.43%

So

25.9

18.2

8.0

10.3

4.2

89.5%

2.9

19.6

0.15

0.13

61%

23%

-2.04

Randy Foye

89.24%

Sr

20.5

16.7

9.0

7.7

5.2

79.1%

3.0

17.8

0.17

0.12

49%

31%

-0.44

It is quite clear to us that Damian Lillard is far more similar to this group than the group above. In the first group Dwyane Wade was the closest comp to Lillard, and yet you can clearly see the differences between Wade and Lillard by seeing this group in totality.

From the best comparable’s list above we feel good about making the following statements about the best comps for Damian Lillard.

Best Case - Ben Gordon, Stephen Curry

Worst Case - Ronnie Price

Fair Comps - Marcus Thornton, Randy Foye

Best Comps - Rodney Stuckey, George Hill

Jimmer Fredette is actually a very good comp for Damian Lillard, but we have chosen to leave Fredette out as a comparable, simply because we have only a single season in the NBA to compare and consider with Fredette, albeit a very poor rookie season. I will also state that one could also describe George Hill as a Best Case comp, included in as a best case, or in place of either Ben Gordon or Stephen Curry.

Our next step was to build a model that predicts Damian Lillard statistical performance for the first the years in the league. This is a weighted model, and is based the NBA stats of these players, adjusted for our projection of the real opportunity Lillard will get compared to the opportunities the above players got. So here is our 3 year projection for Damian Lillard;


Damian Lillard

Per 36 Minutes

Shooting

Season

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

FT

FTA

FT%

TS%

eFG%

Weighted Composite

1

6.17

14.49

42.6%

1.54

4.11

37.5%

3.23

3.85

83.9%

52.39%

47.90%

Weighted Composite

2

6.19

14.05

44.1%

1.55

3.93

39.4%

2.86

3.57

80.1%

53.41%

49.57%

Weighted Composite

3

6.35

14.57

43.6%

1.56

4.13

37.8%

3.54

4.21

84.1%

53.60%

48.94%

Damian Lillard

Per 36 Minutes

Accumulation Stats

Season

ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

A/TO

PF

PTS

Weighted Composite

1

0.99

3.19

4.19

3.98

1.31

0.29

2.58

1.54

3.45

17.08

Weighted Composite

2

0.84

3.16

3.95

4.19

1.28

0.24

2.34

1.79

3.25

16.8

Weighted Composite

3

0.72

2.77

3.45

4.12

1.32

0.28

2.28

1.81

3.19

17.74

Damian Lillard

Advanced Stats

Accumulation %

Season

ORB%

DRB%

TRB%

AST%

STL%

BLK%

TOV%

USG%

Weighted Composite

1

3.16%

10.32%

6.72%

18.25%

1.88%

0.61%

13.91%

23.81%

Weighted Composite

2

2.65%

10.30%

6.45%

19.35%

1.85%

0.44%

12.97%

22.63%

Weighted Composite

3

2.20%

9.11%

5.62%

19.19%

1.89%

0.57%

12.13%

23.41%

Damian Lillard

Advanced Stats

Advanced Composites

Season

PER

ORtg

DRtg

OWS

DWS

WS

WS/48

Weighted Composite

1

14.43

103.1

107.13

1.35

1.6

2.95

0.078

Weighted Composite

2

15.01

106.1

108.57

2.41

1.75

4.13

0.091

Weighted Composite

3

15.69

108.5

108.85

2.73

1.6

4.33

0.104

We are sure that our projections will provoke some differences of opinions as to what to expect from Damian Lillard in the future. As we stated above, it is not our intention to be deliberately provocative, but rather to be as objective and intellectually honest as we can be.

First we found that the best comp for Damian Lillard’s RS Jr. season was Damian Lillard’s Jr. and So. seasons. So in some regard it is fair to say that none of these comps really do him justice and certainly we understand and accept that. As we stated above it is not our intention to absolutely define any player, but rather to place that player into a context that is most appropriate to him. We also believe that the one absolute truth is that Damian Lillard is the player he is, and it is not likely that he will make a significant transformation in the pro’s. What he has done and not done in college is what you should expect from him as a pro. One of the most significant parts of our comparables analysis is to understand how other similar players deviated from their college performance to their pro performance.

Scoring and Shooting Percentage - Players with high shooting percentages in college see those percentages fall as they enter the NBA, especially players who have a high usage and a high number of 3 point shots. The NBA 3 Point line is longer, and NBA defense do not allow players with high usage rates to shoot a lot of uncontested or poorly contested 3’s. As a redshirt Junior Damian Lillard had a 46.7% FG%, and a 40.9% 3 pt %. We are projecting 42.6%, and 37.5% as a rookie, with those increasing over his second and third seasons to an average of 43.9%, and 38.6%. Extremely high usage rate players have a fairly low success rate at the NBA level. Typically, extremely high usage rate players come from smaller programs, and their high scoring rates are very much a function of situation, talent surrounding the player, and the lower level of competition. A very high proportion of the high usage rate players at the NBA level did not have extremely high usage rates in college.

Predicting points per game or per 36 minutes is the single most difficult statistic to predict, as it is heavily dependent upon a players usage rate. At Weber State Damian Lillard scored 24.5 point per 40 minutes, with a usage rate of almost 29%. We are predicting his usage rate to decline to about 23.5% for his first 3 years. Last season there were only 3 Blazers with a higher usage rate, LaMarcus Aldridge, Elliott Williams, and Jamal Crawford. The vast majority of Williams extremely limited minutes were in garbage time, and Crawford is now a LA Clipper, so this would indicate that Lillard will have the second highest usage rate on the 2012-13 Blazer team, unless Batum or Matthews make a substantial leap forward in usage rate.

Assists - We have read here and at other site that some people believe that Lillard is capable of 7 or more assists a game in the NBA. There is no evidence available to support this belief. In Lillard’s best college season he averaged EXACTLY 4.0 assists per 40 minutes. Lillard has never shown a real affinity for passing, as his Player Passer Rating of 0.95 indicates. High assist players show that ability early on, and Lillard has not yet shown that he can be a good passer; he is a shoot first point guard.

Turnovers - Lillard’s projected assist to turnover ratio is low (1.54 to 1.81). Lillard’s turnover rates in college were low, averaging 2.31 per 40 minutes in his senior year. The most obvious reason his turnover numbers are so low is directly related to his passing and his shooting, as most turnovers come as a result of a pass, but you don’t get a turnover for a missed shot. Lillard shot the ball a lot, and he didn’t pass a lot. There is every reason to believe that as he increases his passing attempts that his turnovers will increase proportionally.

Defense - The consensus in scouting circles is that Damian Lillard is not considered to be strong defensively. His length is above average, and length is most commonly associated with defense, but Lillard has been described as losing focus on the defensive end. His 3 year projected defensive rating of 108.5 would place him very much on the lower end of last year’s Trail Blazer team, basically the same as Nolan Smith, Raymond Felton, and Jamal Crawford.

One of the points we wish to make with this is that our three year projections are based upon what we know today. As we know more about Damian Lillard after a single NBA season, then it would be foolish for us to ignore that data and not make adjustments to our predictions. At the present time we have found what we consider to be 7 very good comparable players. It may turn out that one or more of these are in fact not good comps. Ronnie Price, or Ben Gordon may in fact not turn out to be good comps, and if so then we would remove that person from our model. Our gut tells us that Damian Lillard will have a nice NBA career, but there are some things that are very hard to quantify. Lillard was a star on a good team, from a weak conference. The same can be said for George Hill, Ronnie Price, Rodney Stuckey, Jimmer Fredette, and Stephen Curry. Randy Foye was the star on a very good college team, in a very good conference, as was Marcus Thornton, and Ben Gordon.

In aggregate looking at players actual first three NBA seasons our projection is that compared to a random list of other NBA point guards / combo guards, Damian Lillard projects to have;

A greater number of win shares than

Raymond Felton

Rodney Stuckey

Randy Foye

Marcus Thornton

Mike Conley

Jerryd Bayless

Delonte West

Monta Ellis

Jimmer Fredette (our projected for Lillard is well ahead of Fredette’s rookie season)

John Wall (our projected pace for Lillard is ahead of where Wall is after 2 seasons)

Kemba Walker (our projected for Lillard is well ahead of Walker’s rookie season)

A similar number of Win Shares to

Rajon Rondo

Brandon Jennings

Jameer Nelson

Stephen Curry

Devin Harris

Kyrie Irving (similar to what we projected for Lillard’s rookie season)

And fewer Win Shares than

Dwyane Wade

Derrick Rose

Chris Paul

Ty Lawson

Deron Williams

George Hill

Ben Gordon

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Next up; Comparable’s analysis for Victor Claver

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