Spencer Lund of DimeMag.com compares Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard to a number of other recent star guards, including Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Stephen Curry, and Brandon Jennings.
Thanks to Jeremy Wonderly in the FanShots who got there first.
A comparison of their rookie averages, Lillard in his eight games and the other five over the course of their first full seasons, shows some interesting differences and parallels. Lillard is averaging more points per game on a per 36-minute basis (all averages will be on the 36-minute basis moving forward). He's in the middle of the pack for assists, averaging 6.3, which is below John Wall and Chris Paul, even with Brandon Jennings, but more than Rose and Curry. He's also shooting about average for this group, 43 percent from the field, tied with Chris Paul, but more than John Wall and Brandon Jennings. Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry both shot over 45 percent from the field in their rookie seasons. However, his three-point shooting is the second-best for the group as he and Curry are the only ones over 40 percent from long range in their rookie seasons.
What about protecting the ball? Freshman point guards in the NBA have a tendency to turn the ball over more often, and Lillard is second on this list for turnovers per 36 minutes. The only player that averaged more turnovers his rookie year was, not surprisingly, John Wall with 3.6, compared to Lillard's 3.2. Chris Paul leads the group in this category: he turned the ball over only 2.3 times per 36 minutes as a rook.
Defense is also graded on a curve once players make the jump to the NBA, and the competition tends to wear a lot of rookies out. It's not a perfect representation of how they fared on defense, but steals and an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions (defensive rating) can give us some idea of how these guards fared on defense in their rookie seasons. Brandon Jennings and Chris Paul allowed the least amount of points per 100 possessions (104 each), but Lillard holds his own in this group, tying Stephen Curry at 111, but beating Derrick Rose's 113. In terms of swiping the ball, Paul is the only one on this list over two a game for the entirety of his rookie season, but Stephen Curry was just a tenth of a steal behind at 1.9. Lillard is at 1.2 per through 8 games, which is good for 5th on this list, with only Rose recording less at 0.8 a game.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter