Shoot The Moon
It was announced Thursday that Damian Lillard will be participating in the NBA’s three-point contest on All-Star Saturday. The contest is the fifth that the sophomore has committed to, which is an NBA record.
Before the season began, Lillard told CBSSports’ Matt Moore that he wanted to be an All-Star. “I always had high expectations for myself,” Lillard said. “Why not be an All-Star? I believe it can happen.”
Not only is it going to happen, but it will come along with four other events. Lillard will be doing just about everything, and that’s sure to help build his brand as a legitimate superstar.
Rising Stars Challenge
To begin the weekend, Lillard will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge. He was drafted second by Team Hill, coached by former player and current analyst Grant Hill, and he’ll be joining the likes of Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes against Team (Chris) Webber.
This type of game suits Lillard’s skill set, as it features a plethora of young players, a fast pace and a whole lot of points. That said, don’t expect a huge contribution when it comes to this sophomore.
Lillard will likely use this as practice for his other competitions. He’ll take a whole bunch of threes, he’ll make some no-look passes and you’ll likely see one or two finishes well above the rim.
Being named to this game is an honor, but his minutes should be limited, as it’s just the tip of his All-Star iceberg.
Lillard is the reigning Rookie of the Year, but he’s also the reigning Skills Challenge champion. He’s back to defend his title, and he’ll be going up against some big names in the process.
This contest won’t be the highlight of his weekend, but it offers him a great opportunity to add another trophy to his collection. He’s a quick point guard with excellent ball-handling skills, and he has to be considered one of the favorites entering the competition.
The Trail Blazers have earned a reputation as lights-out three-point shooters, and Lillard is one of the biggest reasons why.
On the year, Lillard is shooting 40.5 percent from downtown. He’s attempted the third-most three-pointers in the league behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and he’s made the third-most, trailing those same two Golden State Warriors.
The only disappointing news is that Lillard won’t be accompanied by Wesley Matthews. His fellow backcourt member is just as deserving of the opportunity, but Rip City will have to rely on Lillard to bring it the franchise’s first three-point title.
This is the one that has fans most excited, but it’s also the one that has some perplexed across the Association.
We’ve seen Lillard dunk many times, but the question is: Is he a “Dunk Contest Dunker.” In fact, detractors of this decision will argue that he only has eight dunks on the year, although Lillard’s response is about as good as it comes.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 7, 2014
Speaking of Lillard’s competition, this year’s battle should be entertaining. Paul George, Terrence Ross and John Wall will join Lillard, along with Harrison Barnes and Ben McLemore.
There are a number of reasons why Lillard shouldn’t participate in the contest, but the fact is, he’s making history by participating in all five events. He’s shooting the moon, and the hope is that his fresh legs will do him right all the way through the weekend.
Lillard is all over the board when it comes to All-Star Weekend, but this is the one he wants the most.
Lillard was named to his first All-Star appearance this season, making him the only sophomore to be chosen (before the likely inclusion of Anthony Davis). When he and LaMarcus Aldridge enter the game, it will be the first time since 1994 that two Blazers participate in the same All-Star Game.
The only question left is: How will he perform? Will he see significant minutes? Will he play more above the rim or beyond the three-point line?
Lillard will be just about everywhere come All-Star Weekend, and if you’re a Blazers fan, soak in every minute and be proud of your franchise point guard representing Rip City.