Damian Lillard is dynamic. Damian Lillard is clutch. Damian Lillard is one of the fast rising stars of the NBA.
Damian Lillard is not a good defender. Actually, that may be too kind.
If the Portland Trail Blazers are going to take a step forward next season from 54 wins and the second round of the playoffs, it’s going to be because their pedestrian defense becomes better.
That has to start with Lillard, according to Hall of Famer and former shut down defender Gary Payton, speaking with Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
“He can be like Patrick Beverley [of the Houston Rockets] if he wants to, but that’s a mindset,” Payton told CSNNW.com Thursday night at American AirlinesArena. “I think Damian has to be willing and ready to play that type of way. Right now, he’s scoring so easily and he’s so good at the offensive end, he doesn’t have to think about defense. He doesn’t have to think about it because he knows he can outscore somebody.
“He can have 35 [points] when he wants to and that’s where the game is going right now. But we have to get that out his mindset. If he wants to be a two-way guard and have his name in a legacy for being that way, he has to step it up on the defensive end.”
Payton says he and Lillard — both Oakland natives — talked about working out together and focusing on defense last summer, but their schedules never meshed.
However a workout is not the answer, according to The Glove. Defense at the NBA level is about effort and desire more than anything else, he said.
“It’s all about your mentality. You can’t teach nobody nothing about good defense,” Payton says. “All you can do is if you have good hands, good feet and you get the mindset that you’re going to sit down and lock somebody up. You have to want to learn how to do it and watch yourself do it. That’s when you become good. I can’t go out there and say, ‘Okay, move your feet, do this, move this, move your hands right there.’ No, you have to have instincts with the game. It’s a mentality. Defense just isn’t a part of our game nowadays.”
It’s needs to be for Lillard if Portland is going to take the next step and try to challenge the elite teams in a deep Western Conference.
Jose Calderon has won three Olympic medals – silver in 2008 and 2012 and bronze this year.
Just three men’s basketball players have won more:
- Carmelo Anthony (three golds and a bronze for Team USA)
- Gennady Volnov (a gold,* two silvers and a bronze for the Soviet Union)
- Sergey Belov (a gold* and three bronzes for the Soviet Union)
Calderon, who turns 35 next month, won’t catch them.
O. Cauchi of Sportando:
Veteran point guard Jose Calderon has officially announced his retirement from Spanish NT.
Calderon barely played in Rio. Spain is stacked at point guard with Sergio Rodriguez, Ricky Rubio and Sergio Llull.
The Lakers aren’t as deep at the position with D'Angelo Russell and Marcelo Huertas. Calderon might have a bigger impact in Los Angeles – especially if he’s not saving himself for Eurobasket 2017.
Craig Sager skipped the Rio Olympics to prepare for a bone-marrow transplant.
As he awaits that procedure, the famed sideline reporter provided an update on his outlook.
Sager, via I.J. Rosenberg at AJC.com:
“I have met life’s challenges by climbing the Great Wall of China, riding with the bulls in Pamplona, sailing the Pacific Ocean with Ted Turner, jumping out of airplanes over Kansas, hang gliding off the cliffs of Mexico, bungee jumping atop a tower in San Antonio, and swimming with the sharks in the Caribbean.
“I have run the bases with Hank Aaron after No. 715, thrown out the first pitch at Wrigley Field, graced the cover of ‘Sports Illustrated’, and received the Jimmy V perseverance Award at the ESPY’s. I have covered eight Olympiads, dozens of Super Bowls, 24 Masters, and NBA games too numerous to count.
“I continue to live life full of love and full of fun the only way I know how.”
Fight on, Craig.
The Pistons will start Reggie Jackson at point guard, and they signed Ish Smith to provide better backup at the position.
The competition for the third point guard spot is heating up.
With Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum already signed to unguaranteed deals, Detroit is adding undrafted Old Dominion guard Trey Freeman.
Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops:
The Pistons have just 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. The final spot will very likely go to a point guard.
Brown and McCallum should be favored in the competition, because they’re more NBA-ready. A president/coach, Stan Van Gundy is more prone to covet the player who can step in immediately.
Freeman’s partial guarantee is likely designed to entice him to play in the D-League for a low base salary. The Pistons can waive him in the preseason and then assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, though he’d become an NBA free agent.
Freeman is working to become a better distributor after playing as a go-to scorer in college. A solid mid-range shooter, he must extend his range beyond the arc. It’d also help if he got to the rim more, and it seems he has the bounce to do that.
For an undrafted player, he has nice tools. They’ll probably just need to be refined in the D-League.
But even if that’s the intention, Freeman at least gives himself a chance first of upsetting Brown and McCallum in the race for third point guard.
With 32 wins and missing the playoffs, last season wasn’t exactly what the Knicks hoped for. However, last season also came with hope in the form of Kristaps Porzingis.
And there were highlights. Check out the team’s Top 10 plays, courtesy NBA.com.
It starts with some Derrick Williams moments, and ends with a Jose Calderon game winner, but there are moments from players the fans actually like in between.