Damian Lillard opened the 2017-18 NBA season shooting 37.4 percent from the field, which would represent a career-low if we ludicrously stretched an over-examination of six games across an entire season. Six games of poor shooting is, however, enough to be labeled a slump—if we treat that average as an indicator for each individual game, ignoring that removing a 3-for-16 outlier puts his field goal percentage back above 40 percent. So, hey, it’s a slump. Sure. What could possibly be the cause of this precipitous drop for a once great player?
Some have suggested that Lillard’s new vegan diet is affecting his energy, despite numerous first-hand accounts from Lillard that he feels much better since the switch.
Jason Quick of NBC Sports NW put that theory to bed, asking Lillard if his affinity for leafy greens could be affecting his aim.
So, I took the bullet Saturday and asked Lillard if he was sure his shot wasn’t off because of his new diet.
“I mean, it’s basketball, so I can’t blame making or missing shots on what I’m eating,’’ Lillard said. “If that’s the case, then … that’s crazy.’’
Lillard through six games has made 40-of-108 shots, or 37 percent of his shots. He is coming off a career-high 44.4 percent shooting last season, and is a career 43 percent shooter.
He has said his shot feels good, and that he is not worried. And he says his mind is trained to fight through it thanks to his workout sessions with Phil Beckner, his former college assistant coach who helps him train in the offseason.
It seems we will have to hope and pray that five preceding seasons of refined excellence represent hope for a brighter future, while the cause of Lillard’s current and sure-to-be lasting production norm remains unclear. Lillard will have an opportunity to bounce back tonight against DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors.