One Team, One Stat: No Lillard, No Offense

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Portland Trail Blazers,

The basics
POR Rank
W-L 33-49 21
Pace 93.7 18
OffRtg 102.7 16
DefRtg 106.9 26
NetRtg -4.2 23

The stat

11.5 - Fewer points per 100 possessions the Blazers scored with Damian Lillard on the bench than with him on the floor.

The context

That was the biggest offensive, on-off-court differential in the league for players who logged at least 1,000 minutes with one team. And though Lillard has a fantastic season as a rookie point guard, the drop-off was more about the Blazers’ bench than it was about him.

With Lillard on the floor, the Blazers scored 105.0 points per 100 possessions, a number which would have ranked 10th in the league. With Lillard on the bench, they scored 93.5, which was four points per 100 possessions worse than the 30th-ranked Wizards.

Biggest on-off-court differential, points scored per 100 possessions

Player MIN On OffRtg On MIN Off OffRtg Off OffRtg Diff.
Damian Lillard 3,167 105.0 804 93.5 +11.5
LeBron James 2,877 113.4 1,099 102.1 +11.2
Chris Paul 2,335 112.1 1,611 101.3 +10.8
Lance Stephenson 2,278 106.1 1,640 95.4 +10.7
George Hill 2,620 104.8 1,298 95.3 +9.5

Minimum 1,000 minutes on the floor with one team

(Yes, the Pacers’ bench was pretty terrible, too.)

There’s a reason Lillard led the league in minutes played. The Blazers did everything worse offensively when he sat down. They shot worse (especially from 3-point range), they turned the ball over more, they got to the free throw line less and they got fewer offensive rebounds.

And this is all with LaMarcus Aldridge playing 503 (63 percent) of the 804 minutes Lillard was on the bench. Aldridge can step out to 20 feet, but the Blazers’ second unit lacked both deep threats and guys who can make plays with the ball.

The Blazers traded for Eric Maynor at the deadline with the hope that he would give their second unit a boost. But after the deal, the Blazers still scored just 95.2 points per 100 possessions in 248 minutes with Lillard on the bench.

Here are some ugly possessions from a March 30 game at Golden State, in which Portland scored just 22 points in 16:34 (64 points per 48 minutes) with Lillard on the bench …


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So the Blazers let Maynor leave for Washington and made some more moves this summer. Though C.J. McCollum was lost to a broken foot on Saturday, they still have Earl Watson (not a shooter) and Mo Williams (a shooter) in the back-up backcourt and Dorell Wright (a shooter) on the wing.

More important, they have Robin Lopez to improve their starting-lineup defense. Though the Blazers were solid offensively with Lillard on the floor, they were pretty poor on the other end, allowing 107.2 points per 100 possessions.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

6 Comments

  1. brains! says:

    damian is a steal!

  2. ShawnDee says:

    damn watching that one video of Portland vs Warriors I felt bad for Damian. Man it was like watching a LeBron game finals against the spurs when he played for the Cavs

  3. Damian Lillard will be far more prepared in year two to take on the Derrick Rose roll of carrying his team offensively from the point. What will help him most of all is experience. He is no stranger to carrying his team, as was the case in college, but he now knows better how to pace himself picking and choosing his spots and setting up his teammates.

    Having a healthy team is clutch as well and depth will only be icing on the cake for Lillard. It is only a matter of time before they realize that this team will go as Lillard goes. LaMarcus Aldridge should be greatful to be playing with another all-star versus being all alone like he was when Brandon Roy went down.

    I think we’ll see Damien Lillard stats like: 22ppg, 7.5apg, 1.2 stl, 47 FG%, 38 3FG%

  4. POUND FOREHEAD says:

    As long as there’s no major injuries there’s no way the Blazers do any worse than last year. The bench is definitely improved and you don’t have Hickson starting at the center. The blazers will be better this year but 8th seed is questionable. Its the NBA, you never know.

  5. scootover7 says:

    The moves the Trailblazers made during this offseason were solid moves. Robin Lopez to provide some defense. Mo Williams and Dorell Wright are solid veteran players who could add some depth to that horrific bench last year. I don’t think that Portland makes the playoffs this year. The second unit though will be better than last year I believe.

  6. scootover7 says:

    The Portland Trailblazers were just terrible with their second unit. Hopefully CJ McCollum will be a solid scorer in the backcourt. If Portland second bench would improve I could see them getting into the playoffs. Damian Lillard had to be very exhausted in trying to provide a spark. I think they made some solid moves this offseason. The other thing to consider is if they stink this year bad enough they could be in the Wiggins/Parker sweepstakes