Pelton: ‘No Power Forward In The NBA Is Better At Both Ends Than (LaMarcus) Aldridge’

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

The Basketball Prospectus, the yearly almanac that profiled every NBA player participating in the upcoming season, quietly died when Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle, authors of the Prospectus, joined ESPN.com full-time covering the NBA.

But while the paper edition of The Basketball Prospectus is gone, the content has undergone a digital metamorphosis and now lives on ESPN Insider (a yearly subscription to Insider is less than the cost of The Basketball Prospectus, so thank Kevin for saving you a bit of money). Pelton’s player profiles for the Trail Blazers came out on Tuesday. Here’s a little taste.

On Damian Lillard …

He set a rookie record for 3-pointers and ranked third in the league behind Stephen Curry and James Harden with 86 unassisted 3-pointers, per Basketball-Reference.com. That ability to pull up off the dribble kept opponents from going under screens and gave Lillard a head-start to the basket. Because of his small stature, Lillard shot just 53.1 percent at the rim, and developing an in-between game or kicking out more than shooting will be key to his future development. Though right-handed, Lillard did prove especially adept at finishing going to his left.

As advanced as Lillard was offensively, his defensive effort was more typical for a rookie. He plays smaller than his size and tends to get hung up on screens, which was the start of Portland’s difficulty defending the pick-and-roll. Teams also had success simply isolating Lillard and beating him off the dribble, illustrating the need for him to improve his footwork in addition to adding strength.

On Wesley Matthews …

A physical defender, Matthews relishes the challenge of matching up with the league’s best players. He’s not quite quick enough to be a lockdown one-on-one defender, but the Blazers can generally feel comfortable with him against almost any opposing shooting guard. Matthews’ rebound rate declined last season at both ends of the floor.

On LaMarcus Aldridge …

Per Basketball-Reference.com, Aldridge took more long 2-pointers (from 16 feet or farther) than any other NBA player. While he hit them at a solid 41.8 percent clip, Aldridge is more effective when he’s in the post and can use his long arms to shoot over smaller defenders. Post-ups also tend to translate into more free-throw attempts, which Aldridge cashes in at better than 80 percent accuracy.

That quibble aside, it’s easy to see why contenders will be lining up for Aldridge if the Blazers decide to trade him before he reaches unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015. No power forward in the NBA is better at both ends than Aldridge, who is a fine defender. He battles well in the post and can block shots from the weak side, but Aldridge’s defensive strength is matching up with guards after switching the pick-and-roll. He moves well laterally and forces them to try to shoot over his long arms.

And on Dorell Wright …

Wright is a good fit for the Blazers because his game is similar stylistically to starting small forward Nicolas Batum. Like Batum, Wright has some ability to make plays — he averaged a respectable 3.0 assists per 36 minutes last season — but spends most of his time spotting up. Slightly more than 60 percent of Wright’s shot attempts last season came beyond the arc, and he made them at a solid 37.4 percent clip, in line with his career average. Wright is also good at running the floor for transition finishes.

Pelton goes through the entire roster, so if you’re interested in reading the entire post, head over to ESPN.com and consider purchasing Insider.

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Lillard Takes The Stage Again At adidas LVL3 Event In Las Vegas

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 week ago

A little over a week ago, Damian Lillard, aka Dame D.O.L.L.A., held his first concert ever, a sold out affair at the Crystal Ballroom that also featured CJ McCollum and Tim Frazier dancing on stage, on his 26th birthday. By all accounts (including my own), the show went off without a hitch.

After getting his first official show under his belt, Lillard took his show on the road last weekend, performing for a packed crowd of high schoolers at the adidas LVL3 event, which was a part of the adidas Uprising AAU tournament held in Las Vegas. Media wasn’t granted access to Lillard’s Portland show, so video of that performance is scarce (though a, new “License To Lillard” episode chronicling the night is in the works), but there are a few clips of Lillard performing this weekend in Vegas, with fellow NBA players such as James Harden and Derrick Rose in attendance in case you’re curious about Dame’s stage presence…



Lillard also shared the stage with a few of the players on Team Lillard Elite, the AAU team he sponsors in conjunction with adidas, who were brave enough to test their battling skills in front of a crowd of their peers…



With my @teamlillardaau squad today at the @adidasUprising event in Vegas. #TownBizness 🏀

A photo posted by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on

In addition to the show, Lillard spoke during a panel about his signature shoe, the D Lillard 2, and participated in a number of stations adidas was running in order to keep the large number of teenage boys in attendance from the tournament from doing the kind of things teenage boys do when they get bored…


A video posted by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on


Got to talk about the stories that inspired the #DLillard2 design and colorways at #LVL3 today. /// 📸: @_ndp

A photo posted by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on


Hang-time. @damianlillard checked out the 360 Dunk Cam at #LVL3. Stop by Planet Hollywood Las Vegas to experience it yourself.

A video posted by adidas Basketball (@adidashoops) on





Looks like everyone had a great time and Lillard was right in the center of the action, which is good news if you’re a Trail Blazers fan. After all, it’s never a bad thing to have young, talented players rubbing elbows and building relationships with your franchise player.

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Audio: Stotts Talks Turner, Lillard Tweets On Jay Mohr Sports

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 weeks ago

Comedian/actor/radio show host Jay Mohr was in Portland on Thursday during which he hosted a live edition of Jay Mohr Sports on Rip City Radio 620 AM. Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who is still in Las Vegas taking in Summer League, joined the show to discuss a host of NBA topics. You can listen to the entire interview below, though I’ve also transcribed a few of the more interesting answers…

On Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors…

“They’re going to be damn good, that’s for sure. They’ll be a little bit different, they lost three of their big guys so they’ll have to tweak their defense a little bit. One of the keys to their success the last two years was their defense and I think that got overlooked because of how well they scored the ball. They’re going to be a better offensive team, they’re going to be the favorite to win, but you never know until you toss it up.”

On signing free agent guard/forward Evan Turner…

“I’ve read some of the experts about us signing Evan and I’m surprised they don’t see the fit, because Evan is a really good basketball player. He handles the ball, he’s got a high assist ratio, he makes players better. I talked to Brad Stevens about him afterwards, they’re going to miss him in Boston. He’s a versatile defender, he’s unselfish, I think he fits into our culture. The one thing that I think gets overlooked is there was such pressure on Damian and CJ last year to be scorers and playmakers and particularly, the way I rotated the players, one of them was in the game at all times. Well Evan gives us another playmaker to take some of the load off of Damian and CJ, hopefully they’ll get better shots. You can add more playmaking — you look at the Golden State Warriors, how many playmakers they had on the court. They had two, three, four playmakers on the court at one time and that just adds to your effectiveness offensively. And defensively, Evan’s a versatile defender, he can guard two or three positions. Like I said, I think he fits in really well.”

On Damian Lillard tweeting “Hell no” when asked about returning to Oakland to play for the Warriors…

“It was pure Damian. He’s proud to be a Blazer, he loves Portland, he loves the franchise and he’s really embraced the role of being the face of the franchise. I was glad to read that.”

On the baseless speculation that the team is moving to Seattle…

“(Laughs) No. With all due respect to you Jay, and I do have immense respect, but that doesn’t really deserve a response. We’re the Portland Trail Blazers, always have been.”

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VIDEO: Lillard Cuts Through Crowded Street Market In New Adidas Ad

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 weeks ago

It’s summer time in Portland (or at least, it’s supposed to be), which means there’s no lack of street fairs, farmers markets, beerfests and art walks to attend. Anyone who frequents such events knows how hard it can be to get from Point A to Point B when there’s thousands of people in between.

But Damian Lillard has you covered. In a new adidas short entitled “Creating Clutch,” the 6-3 point guard out of Weber State traverses a busy street market in China (wearing the “PDX Carpet” colorway of the D Lillard 2, if I’m not mistaken) using an array of moves that you can incorporate into your own crowd-surfing…

Here’s what the folks at adidas have to say about the spot…

In “Creating Clutch,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shows us there is no such thing as downtime if you want to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA. A crowded street market in China during his recent Summer tour became his court, the ultimate opportunity to test his creativity and put his skills to the test.

The spot is one of three released by adidas as a part of the “Here To Create” series, which includes football players chasing rabbits through the Everglades and some kind of soccer/motocross amalgam.

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