David Thorpe of ESPN.com writes that New Orleans Hornets forward Anthony Davis has moved past Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard into the No. 1 spot of his rookie rankings.
The grind of the season might be taking a bit of a toll on Lillard, who has played huge minutes while quarterbacking his team all season. Consider that he has played more than 600 minutes more than any other rookie -- the equivalent of more than 12 games in which he played every minute. But he still is playing well and impressing.
Watching him in isolation is particularly vital, because one way to separate point guards, in terms of effectiveness, is by assessing their ability to score without needing screens. Lillard ranks high in this area. Two plays in particular stood out recently. He sized up Boston's Avery Bradley at the top left side of the key, then blew by him with a right-hand dribble for an easy layup. And two games before that, he did the same thing against Phoenix's Goran Dragic, only he beat Dragic going left the whole way. Those two guys are fast defenders, and Lillard was able to beat both with either hand.
Of course, Lillard has plenty of dribble moves and can stop and start on a dime, but that burst of speed allows those other moves to be even more effective. Because defenders know they can be beat by his pure speed, they often race backward and are therefore unable to change directions as well as Lillard does when he makes a move.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter