Damian Lillard racked up a lot of minutes last season — a league high 3,167. He averaged 38.6 minutes per game for a full 82 games. That’s a lot of time on the court.
“Sometimes when you’re out there (playing) so many minutes, your body can wear down,” Lillard told USA TODAY Sports. “So you’re not always productive at the highest levels because you might be worn down.”
Last season the issue was depth — there wasn’t much point guard support behind Lillard. Eric Maynor was on the roster for 27 games, but that’s it.
This coming year veteran Mo Williams will come off the bench and let Lillard rest, and coach Terry Stotts also needs to find minutes for rookie C.J. McCollum. Some of those are going to come out of Lillard’s pile.
Lillard is just fine with that.
Lillard had an impressive Rookie of the Year campaign on offense, but it will be interesting to see where he improves for his second year as the Blazers see themselves as playoff contenders. If that’s going to happen it is the defensive end were Lillard really needs to step up.
Lillard understands that and plans to work out with fellow Oakland native Gary Payton.
“I feel like defense is a lot about desire,” he said. “You have to want to do it yourself.
“(Payton) was one of the greater point guard defenders ever to play in the NBA, so I’m sure he can show me a few things. But at the end of the day, I’m the one that’s gonna have to make the change and want to be a better defender.”