Lillard: What Got Me Hyped Before the Game..?
CHICAGO – If you were asked to think of any NBA player that best resembles Damian Lillard's game and demeanor, you might have a tough time figuring that one out.
However, Thursday night in the Windy City, the answer to that question was in the next locker room down the hall and it is Chicago Bulls superstar point gaurd Derrick Rose.
Aside from not having Lillard's shooting ability, Rose and Lillard are mirror images of each other and already, Lillard has the respect of the one-time NBA's Most Valuable Player.
“He (Lillard) is a really good player,” Rose told CSNNW.com. “I'm impressed. The things he has done this year are incredible and he's only going to continue to get better. I really like his game and I really like him being that he's with adidas.”
Nice plug, Rose.
Prior to the Portland Trail Blazer defeating the Bulls 99-89, Head Coach Tom Thibodeau elaborated on the likeness of the two young points guards.
“Yeah, from the standpoint both guys let their game do the talking,” Thibodeau said. “So that part is very similar.”
Lillard doesn't like to be compared to players, choosing to create his own image. But even he admits there are similarities with Rose.
“We go about our approach the same way,” Lillard said. It's natural. We're both quiet. I'm always in my own element. I'm not trying to be what other guys are. I'm in control and comfortable and he seems the same way. Other than him being arguably the best point guard in the league, I think we're the same in a lot of ways.”
If Lillard keeps this play up, he'll easily break into the ranks of the best point guards this league has to offer. Before Rose took that step to super stardom, he had to first win the Rookie of the Year award, an award Lillard has on lock after collecting every single Rookie of the Month honor this season.
“He's very impressive for a rookie,” Thibodeau added. “He's come in mature beyond his years. [He] plays the game with a lot of poise. I think the combination of his shooting along with his ability to break you down off the dribble [and] pick-and-roll offense. I've been very, very impressed with him.”
The coach who has had the pleasure of working with Lillard this year in Head Coach Terry Stotts, says it's not reasonable to compare someone of Rose's stature to a rookie.
But he concedes the two are identical in certain areas.
“It's always difficult comparing players, especially young players to great players. I don't think that's fair,” Stotts said. “But I think Damian's explosiveness, his quickness, his demeanor, I think there are some similarities to what Derrick had when he came into the league.”
Thursday night, Lillard posted 24 points, four rebounds and seven assists on the Bulls.