|Isaiah Thomas ‘can’t wait’ to go up against good friend Damian Lillard||03.01.16 at 10:02 pm ET|
WALTHAM — For those who missed out on Steph Curry at the Garden on Dec. 11 there’s a chance to see another NBA star that’s being placed in his same class.
Damian Lillard and the red-hot Trail Blazers come calling Wednesday night at TD Garden. They are moving up the standings in the Western Conference and the man who was one of the most notable snubs in recent All-Star history is leading the way, averaging 25.4 points and seven assists a game. Lillard, in his fourth season out of Weber State, made news in January when he was somehow left off the Western Conference All-Star squad.
“He’s definitely an All-Star. He should’ve been one,” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas said after practice Tuesday. “But stuff happens. He’s probably been disappointed in a few things, and not just in his NBA career. He wasn’t even recruited by a bigger school. Whatever the circumstances might be, he’s a helluva a player. He knows he’s an All-Star. The league knows they messed up in that. He’s been playing well and been showing people, proving people wrong.
“I met him a few summers ago. We text every now and then. When I got the nod on the All-Star [team], he texted me, ‘Congratulations, you deserve it.’ He’s a Pacific Northwest guy since he’s in Portland now. He’s just a good dude. We know mutual people and we always text every now and then.”
Thomas (University of Washington) and Lillard (Weber State) know each other well from their roots in western college basketball and then in their Western Conference battles when Thomas was in Phoenix.
“It’s fun. I can’t wait,” Thomas said. “It’s what you play for, to play against the best guys in the world, go against the best guards. I’m all about competing. I know he will be ready and I will be, too. He’s an unbelievable shooter, and he can shoot off the dribble. A lot of people can’t shoot off the dribble. He makes tough shots look easy. And he’s just a guy that works. I know Dames. He’s a guy that continues to work. He uses everything as motivation, kind of like myself. He’s definitely similar to Steph Curry in his shooting ability and how effortless he can shoot from so far [out from basket].”
The Blazers beat up the Knicks Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, their third straight win to open a six-game Eastern swing. They have won 10 of 12 and are 33-28 on the season.
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|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Weber State PG Damian Lillard||06.16.12 at 6:50 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.
Position: Point guard
School: Weber State
Weight: 185 pounds
Achievements: 2012 All-America third team (AP, NABC), 2012 Big Sky Most Valuable Player, 2010 Big Sky Most Valuable Player, 2009 Big Sky Freshman of the Year
Key 2011-12 stats: 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 46.7 FG%, 34.5 minutes
What he brings: Lillard is a phenomenal scorer who attacks the rim consistently and finishes strong He also is a superior shooter from mid-range to deep-3-range and he doesn’t need much room to get off his shot. The 21-year-old likes to push the tempo and creates for his teammates with kickout passes off of his explosive drives. He also is a strong locker room presence.
While his scoring ability is his strength, it is also his crutch. Lillard too often looks for his own shot and isn’t a true point guard because of it. He also has shown a tendency to overshoot when he is in rhythm.
The biggest knock on Lillard is that he didn’t face elite competition playing in the Big Sky. He is considered to be a top-15 pick, but his lack of experience against top-tier teams makes him a risk for any lottery team.
Where the Celtics could get him: The C’s would need to trade up to acquire Lillard, which is unlikely because they are set at point guard with Rajon Rondo.
Notes: Lillard played the first nine games of the 2010-11 season but then suffered a foot injury that forced him out for the rest of the season.
Video: Here are highlights of Lillard’s 2011-12 season.
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