Damian Lillard is looking forward to playing without the ball this season.
The Portland Trail Blazers signed Evan Turner in free agency in a move that some questioned but he gives the team another playmaker with the ball in addition to Lillard and CJ McCollum.
“We didn’t come into the game and say ‘Alright Dame, you don’t handle the ball that much,’” said Lillard after Monday night’s victory. “It’s been all month we’ve been playing, I’ve been getting off the ball, just trying to get out of the sight of the defense so much. Come off pindowns, coming off flare screens, just not having the defense focus on me with the ball in my hand. Just trying to get high quality looks and be in a different position offensively because we have that luxury. That’s all it was. I’ve been doing it over the last month so I’m just more comfortable with it now. So in the game, it naturally happened.”
Lillard would sometimes shift to the shooting guard position with second unit point guards in the past.
“Back then, it was for four minutes or five minutes because we was dropping the ball into (LaMarcus Aldridge) and was playing off of that,” said Lillard of his previous ties playing without the ball in his hands. “Now it’s going to be primarily on the perimeter, so we’re going to be moving the ball around penetrating, kicking, flare screens, pindowns instead of it being throw it to the block and then we screen away action just to keep the defense off of (Aldridge). Now it’s going to be real live action. It’s the same but it’s a different thing.”
Lillard realizes he will be able to still score with frequency without the ball and it may increase his efficiency.
“I think over the course of the game I’ll get high quality shots, I’ll be able to get better looks,” said Lillard of playing more frequently off the ball. “We’ve got sets now that compliment the roster that we have where I don’t have to have the ball and I don’t have to beat two defenders all the time. Sometimes the offense is putting the defense in position where it’s me and the big or my man gets left on an island and there’s a better opportunity for me. I’m excited about that.”