NBA Draft 2012: Damian Lillard, Future Sun?

I have been a big fan of Lillard for the past few months as a player in potentially towards the end of the first round. For the first time, the nation’s leading scorer is being thought of as a possible lottery pick. With Lillard now considered the best Point Guard in the 2012 draft, the Suns may be one of the teams with most interest in the 6-2 guard from Weber State.

SEASON

GMS

MIN

PTS

REB

AST

TO

A/T

STL

BLK

PF

FG%

FT%

3P%

2011-12

26

33.8

24.5

5.3

3.9

2.2

1.76

1.4

0.2

1.9

.478

.887

.448

2010-11

10

28.5

17.7

3.8

3.3

2.8

1.18

1.4

0.2

2.3

.438

.857

.345

2009-10

31

34.3

19.9

4.0

3.6

2.4

1.51

1.1

0.1

1.9

.431

.853

.393

These are his stats from his first 3 years at Weber State (albeit in the Big Sky conference) and it is hard to find many faults with these besides the lack of assists. Compare these stats with those from Jimmer Fredette’s Senior numbers at BYU below.

Statistics

G

FG%

3P%

FT%

Tot.

Avg.

Asst

Bl

St

Tot.

Avg.

2010-2011

37

45.2

39.6

89.4

127

3.4

4.3

0.0

1.3

1068

28.9

More after the jump......

“NBA Comparison: Ramon Sessions/Eric Maynor

Strengths:
Late blooming 6’2 PG with ideal size and strength for the position … A standout scorer with the ability to knock down shots as well as strong penetration ability … Has a pretty pull up off the dribble and has range well past NBA 3 point ... Also has an effective catch and shoot … Excels at three point shooting: (39%) on a high volume of shots ... Quality ball handler ... Polished one on one skills … Nice quickness: Shows a strong ability to get by his man to the rim … Has the ability to use both hands on the drive … Also shows a developing floater in the lane when his drives get cut off by big men in the paint … Gets to the line well where he’s a quality free throw shooter (85%) … Shows a the ability to run a team and get his shots within the flow of the offense … Quality pick and roll player … Wants the ball at the end of games, and steps up to the challenge when the game is on the line …

Weaknesses: Very good from outside and driving to the rim, but needs to improve his midrange game … Solid athlete, though not extraordinary … Assist to turnover ratio is good but could stand to improve 1.5-to-1 … Gets a little careless with the ball at times … Playing at Weber State, he will have to go above and beyond to get the recognition and respect he deserves … It is also questionable how much development/improvement he can make playing against inferior competition on a regular basis … Struggled down the stretch of the season in big games with his decision making. Will need to show that he can be a steadying influence and has the ability to elevate his game in big games situations … Makes better decisions in the half court than full. Will need to become better on the break … “

Via nbadraft.net this was written in 2010 after his freshman year. I’m not sure how accurate those comparisons are, but Lillard called himself a more athletic Jimmer and I would tend to agree with that.

Obviously no one is sure where he will end up but I will list where a few sites have him going:

ESPN.com: 13(Top 100), 9(Mock Draft)

Nbadraft.net: 22

Draftexpress.com: 18

These guys know more than me but I would say he will be drafted in the 11-15 range.

At the moment, it looks like the Suns will be drafting in the 9-12 range. Lillard will almost certainly be on the board then (provided Utah don’t pick him with Golden States’ pick), but so will some of the Suns presumed targets such as Shooting Guards Brad Beal and Jeremy Lamb. A signing of Aaron Brooks will change the Suns willingness to draft a point guard however.

Lillard would appear to be NBA ready and looks as if he has the ability to defend NBA guards. He is a pure shooter, 48 FG%, 45 3P% and 88 FT% are close to Steve Nash numbers, those numbers won’t translate in his first few years in the league but he has certainly shown the potential to be a very good point guard someday. He is also very confident, mature and well spoken. If Lillard was to play 20 minutes a game for two years behind Nash and continue to improve, he could be a very good starting point guard once Nash decides to call it a day on his career.

Draftexpress have a great analysis of Lillard here: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Damian-Lillard-6152/ , this is particularly impressive; “ he actually ranks #1 amongst all NCAA point guard prospects terms of turnovers per possession, coughing the ball up on just 10% of his possessions.” With all the problems our back up PG's have had turning the ball over, this would be a breath of fresh air.

Could Lillard be the heir to Steve Nash? It is possible, but if the Suns trade for a pick later in the draft they could target Kendall Marshall, Tony Wroten, Marquis Teague or Myack Kabongo. Free agency could be an option with DJ Augustin, Goran Dragic, Jerryd Bayless and Aaron Brooks available. But Lillard would appear to me to be the best long term option compared to all these guys.

Check out some of the Lillard's high school highlights here, some Weber State highlights here and an in depth interview here

Like I have said, Lillard won’t be the only guy on the Suns’ radar on draft night; Perry Jones out of Baylor is dropping down mock drafts lately with his inconsistent play. Brad Beal and Jeremy Lamb both have potential to be great scorers in the NBA and Meyers Leonard from Illinois could be a nice backup for Gortat.

The 2nd round – The Suns currently do not have a 2nd round draft pick after it was traded to Atlanta for Josh Childress, but if the Suns do manage to acquire a 2nd round pick there are few guys they may be interested in.

Scott Machado, PG, Iona – 6-1, 180: His lack of athleticism and pretty low ceiling has made him fall to the 2nd round but his incredible floor vision and passing which led to him leading the nation in assists (10.1) means he could contribute to a team straight away.

Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga – 7-0, 247: A 7 footer who doesn’t rebound great (6.5rpg) may remind you of a certain someone already on the Suns roster but Sacre is a very solid post player and a solid shooter from 10-14 feet. He is also a pretty good defender and shot blocker, but like Machado he lacks athleticism and potential. With Lopez heading for Free agency, adding another big man can’t hurt.

Tu Holloway, PG, Xavier – 6-0, 185: The senior from Xavier is a very good all round point guard, averaging 17.3ppg and 5.6apg. He relies a bit too much on his average jumpshot so his offense may struggle at the next level. He is a good distributor and could very well be a rotation player straight away in the NBA.

Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, Czech Republic – 6-7, 210: Satoransky is not defiantly entering the draft but if he does, he will probably be an early 2nd round pick. He has fantastic size and athleticism for a point guard but he is not a great shooter from deep (30 3PT%), and he has no real shot of the dribble. I’m not crazy about this guy, he probably isn’t NBA ready but has lots of potential. I would rather see us take Machado or Holloway.


Thanks for reading ;)

Poll
How would you grade Lillard as a draft pick for the Suns

  92 votes | Results









Golden State Warriors 106, Phoenix Suns 104 PHOENIX — Only once this season have the Phoenix Suns pulled off what any good NBA team might call a winning streak. The Suns are looking for a third...

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Think marcin can limbo?(AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Tonight your Phoenix Suns look for their 3rd victory in a row, while hoping to enter the All Star break with some sort of momentum for the second half of the season. The Suns enter tonight's game winners of two straight over the Lakers and Wizards, while the Warriors are enjoying a rare victory over a quality squad in the L.A. Clippers. Ekpe Udoh was the hero Monday night, starting in place of the disappointing Andris Biedrins, hitting for a career high 19 points.

The Golden State Warriors haven't won in Phoenix for 7 (seven) years. However, the Suns and Dubs have split the season series thus far, with the Bay City Rollers winning the last matchup on their home court. It was a typical Suns effort: start strong-waver-fight back-fade. While Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry were held in check, David Lee was huge, with 28 and 12 in 41 minutes. In the first matchup back in January, the Suns used a balanced attack to defeat the Warriors in the desert. And yes, Lee was out ill and the Suns outrebounded the Dubs 49-36 overall, with the Suns picking up 16 offensive boards.

Now at the halfway point of the season and the All Star break beginning tomorrow, the players and coaches are asessing the season thus far along with hopes for a second half run at the playoffs. Here's what some of the boys had to say recently:

Grant Hill (on 9 straight at home, 6 against squads with sub .500 records)

"You can go into the break feeling good about yourself. Things happen when you have some momentum. In spite of how we've played thus far, if we can get this win (Wednesday night) -- which is a very winnable game... we'll see what we can do when we get back...we did it a couple years ago. I've been on teams where you're rolling into the break and feeling good and get some confidence. You get re-energized, refocused and healthy. You get some rest and you're ready to go when you get back so it's a big game for us."


Channing Frye

"Like Steve (Nash) said, we're not talented enough to just cruise and turn it on and off. We have to play a certain way the whole game and get into a rhythm."


Steve Nash

"Obviously, it'd be nice to go on a three-game win streak after the (four-game) losing streak. Hopefully, we can come out of the break with those three wins and feel like we can turn the corner."


Michael Redd

"Coach has led the charge in being positive. He's consistent day in and day out as far as his mood. He's always upbeat. That plays big throughout the team. "

Quotes courtesy of AZCentral/Paul Coro

Playoff Probability

The Warriors and Suns have similar records and have some similar challenges in the Pacific Division. Both squads are in the negatives in scoring and rebounding differential. The Warriors do have the advantage in three point shooting and Dave Chappelle appearances, nevertheless, both teams are currently on the outside of the WC playoff race.

The geniuses over at Basketball-Reference have crunched the numbers to create a "Playoff Probability Report." The stat geeks ran 1000 simulations of the remainder of the season and came up with some interesting projections:

RK TEAM
W L W-L% CURRENT REMAIN BEST WORST PLAYOFFS DIVISION TOP SEED WIN CONF WIN FINALS WIN LOTTERY
12 WARRIORS 28.7 37.3 .435 12-17 17-20 40--26 19-47 4.3% 0.1% 2.0%
13 SUNS 27.9 38.1 .422 14-19 14-19 36-30 21-45 2.0% 0.2% 1.7%

Here's what these numbers stand for:

•W and L are the average number of wins and losses, respectively, that the team had in the 1000 simulations.
•Current is the team's curent W-L record.
•Remain is the team's projected W-L record the remainder of the season.
•Best is the team's best W-L record in the 1000 iterations.
•Worst is the team's worst W-L record in the 1000 iterations.
•Playoffs is the percentage of times the team made the playoffs in the 1000 iterations.
•Division is the percentage of times the team won their division in the 1000 iterations.
•Top Seed is the percentage of times the team was the top seed in their conference in the 1000 iterations.
•Win Conf is the percentage of times the team won the conference playoffs in the 1000 iterations.
•Win Finals is the percentage of times the team won the NBA Finals in the 1000 iterations.
•Lottery is the percentage of time the team won the draft lottery in the 1000 iterations.

The Takeaways (all based on 1000 simulations)

  • The Suns best possible record will be 36-30, their worst, 21-45
  • The Suns projected record is 28-38
  • The Suns made the playoffs 2% of the time, and won the division 0.2% of the time.
  • The Suns won the lottery 1.7% of the time.

Happy joy, right? I guess not. I post these numbers partially out of fun, but we all know that the numbers don't always tell the whole story or all of the truth. That's why they play the game, folks.

Check for the game thread 30 minutes prior to game time.

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Golden State Of Mind

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As we have well established by now, the fine folk at SB Nation Arizona compile a weekly power ranking of sorts of the Phoenix Suns players. Typically, the top spot is reserved for Steve Nash. In fact, I suspect that three years after he retires, Nash might still be in the top spot.

This week, Marcin Gortat returned to the role of second fiddle while Frye, Redd, Hill and Dudley round out the next four. Personally, I would have put Jared a bit higher but that's how these things go with power rankings.

Here's a link to the list so you can check them out and then come back and provide your own list/critique/recipe for fried avocado.

Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer, Week 8: Gortat Back To Polish Hammering - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
It was a week in which the Phoenix Suns got throttled by the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Lakers got throttled by the Phoenix Suns. The team also lost a back-to-back-to-back that was painful to watch. But, Marcin Gortat got some of his groove back and Channing Frye seems to have found some consistency. Also, Steve Nash distributed the ball like only Cap'n Nash can. As is the norm for this year's team, this week was a mixed bag.

Mahalo amigos


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