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Damian Lillard’s Trail Blazers profession has reached an inflection point where his legacy is solidifying. We feel it, fans feel it, the record books are feeling it and Dame is sensing it. On Monday night, Lillard eclipsed Clyde Drexler to turn into the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Lillard’s profession has been an exhilarating ride, but his opportunity to stay significant beyond this generation is slipping away. For years within the mid-2010s, a contingent of NBA insiders or fans tried to argue Lillard was on Steph Curry’s plane of existence as a shooter.
Over time the contrarians have faded away. Just a few doofuses exist, but recognizing Curry because the Patron Saint of Shotmakers has turn into basketball orthodoxy. Nevertheless, Lillard has clearly felt overshadowed by Curry’s accomplishments. Two years ago, he remarked on Curry struggling without his All-Star castmates and ultimately needed to eat his words.
His most up-to-date blasphemy could be worse. In his postgame remarks on Monday, Lillard explained where he believes he should rank among the many preeminent shooters in league history.
“I at all times see stuff on social media where they talk concerning the biggest shooters of all time and so they at all times act prefer it’s just crazy for people to say me,” Lillard said. “I believe for a way many threes I’ve made, for a way consistent I make them, the extent of difficulty that I shoot threes with over years and years and years, I just think it’s form of crazy people don’t mention me in those discussions.”
Lillard continued along with his explanation, but it surely didn’t improve.
“Obviously I believe Steph is the best ever, but I believe after him, I don’t see why I’m not clear-cut in that discussion, not only by makes, but how I shoot it, how I make tough ones on a regular basis, how easy I shoot the ball,” Lillard added. “I’m looking forward to maintain climbing that list so once I stand up there in that top two, top three, I’m curious to see what people will say about me as a shooter at that time.”
When Lillard thrusts himself into the highest two or three all-time he’s probably referring to the profession 3-pointers made list, but booiiiiiiii… Sometimes that supreme confidence that permits him to take 30-footers with no regard, goes somewhat too far. Lillard is great, but he wouldn’t even reach the NBA Shooter’s Mt. Rushmore.
Even when you keep on with the modern-day NBA, Kevin Durant is the purest elite shooting alternative to Curry. His profession three-point shooting percentage of 38 percent matches Lillard’s except he’s also considered one of the preeminent midrange shooters of the fashionable era and he gets it done within the postseason too. Durant’s lanky arms stretch longer than most peninsulas, making his shot not possible to dam when he rises and extends. There’s a reason his form is the usual by which Victor Wambanyama’s perimeter shooting upside is measured.
Durant gets missed because he’s larger, not as shifty and he prefers to take the occasional midrange jumper than launch drone missiles from the brand. As a consequence of his immense size and length, Durant isn’t as limited on drives to the basket, subsequently his scoring profile isn’t as reliant on the arc. But when he does, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
To Lillard’s credit, he has established himself as considered one of the two most prolific shooters beyond 30 feet in NBA history. That’s partially because until recently, taking “bad shots” from that distance was frowned upon. Between 2015-16 and 2021, Lillard’s efficiency was more comparable to Trae Young’s volume shooting than Curry’s wet work. The disparity between Lillard and Curry from 30 feet or more is so wide that in that span, Curry was more accurate on deep threes than Lillard from 24 feet out.
Lillard is a pioneer of the intercontinental 3-pointer, but placing him as Curry’s salutatorian is an Everest-level climb. Lillard’s belief in himself is each overconfidence and a classic example of recency bias run amok. Right away, he’s roughly 1,000 behind Ray Allen and trails Reggie Miller by 1,300 triples. Larry Bird wasn’t fortunate enough to take part in the 3-point era, yet his shooting prowess is nearly mythical.
Miller and Allen were imitable shooters from the 3-point arc’s Mesozoic era. Allen specifically was a master of long-distance strikes. His form was frozen in amber for nearly 20 years. His consistency was unmatched and in Allen’s prime, he was an elite three-level scorer who could finish above the rim.
But all of that is moot without Lillard acknowledging the one other player whose individual accomplishments match Curry’s and had the cultural chokehold on the best shooter alive belt until Curry’s ascension. Larry Bird was an absolute sniper, MVP, and three-time champion whose arsenal included long-range leaners, fadeaways, and the occasional game of crunchtime HORSE.
Six times, Bird shot over 40 percent from distance, but rarely took a couple of triple an evening during his nascent years within the league which coincided with the appearance of the 3-point line and established a monopoly over the primary trio of 3-point contests until he retired from the event.
In an era where distance shooting was an afterthought, Bird was still capable of join the exclusive
50-40-90 club twice while Lillard has only finished one season with a 3-point shooting percentage over .400. Bird deserves some respect on his name. But so do Kyrie Irving, who has stormed the 50-40-90 club, and Irving’s former coach, Steve Nash, who joined the club 4 times.
Lillard is an exceptional long-distance assassin, but putting him up for consideration as the perfect shooter of all time not named Wardell is a high bar. That’s a bustling list leaving Lillard lost in the group.