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How Steph Curry Ruins Dame’s Legacy
Portland lost last night, but that’s not going to stop me from writing about what my eyes witnessed during that second quarter, and for that matter throughout the game. Damian Lillard put up 22 points on 6 threes in the 2nd quarter, and 42 and 10 assists for the entirety of game 2, and it was truly baffling to watch. I want to discuss, first of all, how special Damian Lillard is, specifically in terms of shooting the basketball, but also about how his legacy is overlooked due to the unfortunate timing of his career.
LET IT FLY
Lillard can let it fly like no other in the league. Yes, no other. The ease with which Damian Lillard shoots the three ball (both off the catch and off the dribble) all the way from the mid-range to the half court line is quite frankly unprecedented. Now, I know your minds instantly go to Steph (for good reason), but we need to understand how their shooting forms differ, and how their games differ. Lillard shot 123 30+ foot threes this year, while Steph Curry shot only 90, so the super deep three is definitely a slightly larger part of Dame’s offense. Furthermore, Steph Curry’s shot from just inside half court is honestly something in between his normal shot and a heave. He’s completely perfected it (so I’m definitely not hating), and it clearly isn’t impacting his ability to get it off, no matter how many defenders are chasing him around the court, but it doesn’t look the same as his normal 3 point shot; he uses a lot more of his legs, and he definitely dips the ball a bit more and uses more of his momentum to get it off from 30+ feet range. This is understandable, and it’s what literally any player who shoots deep threes does… except for Damian Lillard. If you haven’t yet, you need to check out this video of Damian Lillard’s 1st quarter logo three last night. It legitimately looks no different from his normal 3 point shot, and that makes precisely no sense. How he has the upper body strength and technique to shoot the same from the mid-range as he does from the logo is beyond my comprehension, and I think it needs to be emphasized, for the sake of his legacy, that no one else even comes close to doing this. Also, the way that he elevates on some of his threes (especially his 2nd quarter threes last night, which were contested and slightly off balance) and is still able to square his body and be consistent with his mechanics is truly special. We’ve started to take it for granted, though, which is a real shame. These are the best of the best, and Lillard differentiates himself EVEN FROM THEM by the rareness of his deep-shot mechanics and accuracy.
It’s All About the Timing
Unfortunately for Damian Lillard, he takes a huge hit just from the fact that he plays during the same era as Steph. Curry began shooting a lot of threes (notably a lot of deep threes) a few years before Lillard came around, and he had already perfected it and done things that no one had ever seen from a shooting perspective by the time Lillard’s name was on the map. Curry changed the game by making shooting a commodity; all you need to do is look at three point attempts in the NBA from the time that Steph Curry came into the league until now. They increase every year, and they’ll probably keep increasing for the years to come, and Steph Curry is the lone player that’s credited with that trend. I’m not arguing he shouldn’t be, but I think we also need to understand what Damian Lillard is doing (and how it’s a bit different) to promote this progression. Lillard’s deep shooting prowess is revolutionary in its own right, and we need to begin to include him in the discussion of “guys who changed the game”. Players will continue coming into the league with the green light to shoot the deep three (of course if they can hit it), as long as players like Damian Lillard (and Steph) prove that it can be effective. Younger guys like Trae Young and Luka Doncic have taken their lead, and I’m sure there’s a bunch of 8th graders out there who will be shooting from half court when they get drafted to the NBA in 6 years, all because they’re watching Lillard do it in game 2 of the NBA playoffs. I want to finish this article off by posing a hypothetical situation. Imagine Steph Curry had never existed, or had never come into the NBA. What would that do to Dame’s legacy? Sit down and ponder it, and you’ll slowly gain more and more respect for what Lillard does.
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