There was something unexpected in the lineup when the Portland Trail Blazers faced the Detroit Pistons: Nassir Little shifted into the shooting guard position for 24 minutes of play. According to Jason Quick of the Athletic, the move was made to boost the defense. Following the game, Coach Terry Stotts commented on the shift.
“It was a defensive decision,” Stotts said. “He has length and athleticism to guard perimeter players and he’s shown he can make shots and space the floor. It was something that I thought we should try.”
Stotts says it won’t be the last time that Little takes the court as a shooting guard.
“We’ll be doing it again,” Stotts said. “He still has to learn some of the tricks of the trade as far as guarding perimeter players — coming off pin downs, guarding pick and rolls — but I think he is capable of doing that and we have to continue to see how he does in that role.”
Damian Lillard had positive things to say about the change.
“He’s versatile,” Lillard said. “He can pretty much guard every position depending on what lineup is out there. Tonight, at one point he was like, ‘Let me guard whoever is handling the ball the most … that type of mentality, you can tell he is getting comfortable and he is understanding what it’s going to take for him to get minutes and kind of step into a role that we need. I thought it worked out well.”
As for Little, he relishes the change and the chance that comes with it.
“I know I have the athleticism, the speed, the strength — I think I have all the tools to be one of the best defenders in this entire league,” Little said. “You know, it’s all about making it a little harder, not letting them bring it up easy. Just kind of making them think about it a little bit and try to make the game harder for the other team.”
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