John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By one measure, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard's presence impacts his team's offense more than any other NBA player.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com writes that the Portland Trail Blazers post a 104.9 offensive rating when rookie guard Damian Lillard is on the court and a 91.6 offensive rating when he is off the court. That difference of 13.3 is the largest in the NBA.
Damian Lillard is the real deal, but he isn't the best offensive player in the league. Still, the offensive drop-off that the Portland Trail Blazers have suffered when Lillard has stepped off the floor has been greater than the drop-off that any other team has suffered when a specific player goes to the bench.
Breaking news: The Portland Trail Blazers have an awful, awful bench. Their starting lineup is good offensively, but not great, scoring 104.3 points per 100 possessions. They have lineups with three or four starters on the floor that are better. But they have no suitable back-ups for either Lillard or Aldridge. When both have been off the floor (just 127 minutes), Portland has scored less than 90 points per 100 possessions.
Smartly, Terry Stotts has staggered his starters' minutes pretty well. Of the Blazers' 13 most-used lineups, 12 include at least three starters. Out of necessity, three Blazers (Nicolas Batum, Lillard and Aldridge) rank in the top 15 in minutes per game.
According to Schuhmann, Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge ranks No. 4 by this measure.
Lillard is averaging 37.9 minutes per game. He currently ranks No. 107 among all players in PER. His back-ups, Ronnie Price and Nolan Smith, rank No. 369 and No. 413 out of 436 players in ESPN.com's database.
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