This hasn’t been the season that Damian Lillard or the Trail Blazers envisioned for themselves heading into the All-Star break. With Portland well-below .500, the search for answers is already underway.
Lillard’s struggles in the last month haven’t gone unnoticed, and he was asked about his health by Mike Richman of OregonLive after last Saturday’s practice in Tualatin. Seemingly upbeat, the former Weber State standout had this to say about how his body is enduring the rigors of a long NBA season:
"I feel good. I think usually by this point I'll have something ... like I'll have hit the floor a lot more than I'd like to so I'll be aching all over the place," the Trail Blazers point guard said. "But I feel good this year. I feel strong."
"When I did that I knew, even when I recovered from it, I knew it would be tough on me," he said. "That's one thing that I know it's probably going to take until the summer for ... me to be completely explosive and how it was because I never turned it like that."
With a lack of explosiveness limiting Lillard, his drop in production has been dramatic since the injury. Richman outlines the regression here:
Prior to the ankle injury, Lillard was averaging 27.0 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting and 35.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Since Jan. 5, Lillard is averaging 24.4 points per game while shooting 40.9 percent from the floor and 33.6 percent from the three-point line.
Lillard has a history of playing through nagging injuries, badly spraining two fingers on his shooting hand in 2014, enduring plantar fasciitis for much of the 2015-16 season, and injuring his left index finger last November. This current injury is proving to be another tough recovery for Portland’s star player. The Blazers continue to struggle as he does.