Damian Lillard’s 2015-16 goal: Get to the free throw line more

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James Harden had a free throw attempt for every .561 shot attempts last season (called free throw rate). Russell Westbrook was at .445, Isaiah Thomas at .437, LeBron James .413, Dwyane Wade .341.

Damian Lillard was at .293.

This season, with the entire Portland offense basically on his shoulders, Lillard wants to move up into the category with the elite foul drawing players, as he told Jason Quick at CSNNW.com (video above).

“In the past I was trying to beat guys to the rim and get the ball on the glass,” Lillard said. “This year, in the summer, I worked a lot on getting into people’s body, drawing contact. And (work on) my balance, using angles, and getting to spots on the floor.”

The preseason is a small sample size and notoriously unreliable predictor, but his free throw rate jumped to .352. Or, if you prefer some old-fashioned stats, that was 7.4 free throws a game, which would be a career high by a couple per game if he can sustain it over the course of the season.

Portland GM Neil Olshey did a good job of putting big men who can score on the roster as pick-and-roll partners for Lillard, with the bigs drawing defenders he should have a little more room to operate. Besides getting to the line, he needs to continue his improved efficiency finishing at the rim (64.2 percent last season, a big step up for him).

Lillard is one of those players known for throwing his body around on drives, which takes a large toll on him. If he can lessen that and get to the line more, he’ll be in a better position.