Blogtable: Would you build around Anthony Davis or Damian Lillard?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Build around Lillard or Davis? | More likely to miss playoffs: Rockets or Bulls? | Thoughts on Russell as starter?



VIDEOWhen will Anthony Davis go for 50-plus again?

> If you were building a team in today’s NBA and could choose one of these players as your cornerstone, who would it be: Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis?

David Aldridge, TNT analyst: Anthony Davis. No disrespect, Dame. But one of y’all is 6-foot-3, and the other is 6-foot0-10. I know today’s NBA game is all about small ball, and that Lillard’s lethality will be more valuable than ever in future seasons. I cannot, though, give up “The Brow” if I have a chance. He can score, as Sunday’s 59-point masterpiece against showed. Maybe Dame is a better game-in, game-out scorer. But Davis can control games with rebounding and defense as well. There’s simply more small guys who can play than big guys, so if you have the game’s best young big on your side, you have someone who cannot be easily replicated, or defended.

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comCan we give the “little man” thing a rest, please? From the Golden State-inspired pendulum swing to the 3-ball to the “frontcourt” slur of All-Star balloting, traditional NBA big men are becoming an endangered species. But this one is a no-brainer. Give me a remarkably skilled 6-foot-10 player (Davis) over a remarkably skilled 6-foot-3 guy (Lillard) every day and twice for proverbial Sunday matinees. You’ve got a lot better chance finding a point guard to complement Davis and defensively challenge Lillard than you do the other way around with some replacement big. Besides, Davis is three years younger and if I’m the GM, I want to hang onto my job those extra seasons.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: So here’s one more chip for Damian Lillard to carry around on his shoulder. But the decision here isn’t even close. You’ve got to take the still 22-year-old, 6-foot-10 forward with the skills to do just about anything on the floor offensively and also dominate a game just by playing defense. It’s Anthony Davis all the way and I’d be shocked if even one of the 30 NBA general managers — including his own — would choose different.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Anthony Davis. That’s no slight on Lillard, a star for many years to come and the driving force behind the Portland Trail Blazers emerging as one of the feel-good stories of the season. But Davis can be a bigger star on both sides of the ball. That ability to greatly impact on both sides of the ball gives him an edge. And while I’m not as much of a proponent of the old theory of leaning toward a big over a small, given the changing NBA, it doesn’t hurt when the big can play two positions.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Anthony Davis all day. And that’s no disrespect to Dame, who would’ve — should’ve — been on the West team in the All-Star Game if not for all the Kobe Bryant love. Davis is just 22 and hasn’t touched his prime yet and is big and can impact games on both ends. Come to think of it, is this a trick question?

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Damian Lillard is the closest thing to Stephen Curry. As a primary ball-handler who can pull-up, drive or pass on pick-and-rolls, he forces defenses to change up their coverages. But there’s still a big difference between Curry and Lillard in regard to what percentage of those pull-up shots go in the basket. Anthony Davis still has a step or two to take in his development on both offense and defense, but he has the tools to be the best two-way player in the game. That should be easier to build around, though the Pelicans obviously don’t have the right complementary pieces at this point and Terry Stotts has done a fantastic job in Portland to have the Blazers in playoff position.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: His age, skill-set, ceiling and transcendent talent make Anthony Davis the pick here. But I’ll give credit to Damian Lillard for being a franchise cornerstone you can build a potential playoff team around right now. That’s a role Davis played last year for the Pelicans, securing their trip to the playoffs with yeoman’s work in the regular season finale against the San Antonio Spurs. This is a great question, though, with both of these guys coming off of monster, 50-plus-point outings this past weekend. Lillard is one of nearly a dozen elite point guards in the NBA right now. But Davis is one of barely a handful of players his size or taller capable of playing the role of game changer on a nightly basis. His unique profile is simply too special to overlook in this instance.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: You couldn’t go wrong with either one. As much as Lillard’s maturity and leadership skills are to be respected in addition to his talent, you’d have to choose Davis because his blend of size, skills and perspective is almost impossible to find these days. Based on his age and upside, especially at the defensive end, it’s understandable why Davis is regarded by many GMs as the most valuable talent in the league.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogMy answer may anger Damian Lillard and propel him to yet another level of greatness, but I’d go with Anthony Davis. Not only is Davis three years younger than Lillard, and a better defensive player, but the real reason I’d select AD is that finding a basketball player with AD’s combination of size and speed and skill and strength is almost a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. Not to say that finding another Lillard would be a simple task, but it’s easier to go out and get a competent point guard than it is a big man. Especially one like Davis.

24 Comments

  1. Brian nishimoto says:

    Anthony Davis

  2. LOL says:

    Seems to me like all the commenters on this article have more sense than these so called “professional NBA anaylsts” LOL

  3. Becky says:

    Hmmmm – Blazers have legit shot at playoffs and Pelicans do not. Davis is prone to injuries, Dame has had very few. But, keep it up Commentators as you may have just propelled us to ending the season in the 5th/ 6th seed. As Dame has said “Thank you for the motivation”!!!!

  4. TripCity says:

    To: Damian Lillard,

    PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE BEFORE TONIGHT’S GAME!!!! its all the fuel that fire inside your Oaktown gut needs before taking on the fizzled out Rockets at the moDAME Center. What separates all franchise players from just all-stars is that killer instinct, which Lillard has in spades. Killer instinct just doesn’t come to mind when I think of the unibrow. Tonight Lillard will be going for his 6th straight game with 30+ points, while trying to lead his Franchise to their 7th consecutive win.

    To: NBA writers

    Please keep hating on Dame, its leading us straight to the playoffs.

  5. taekayo says:

    Lillard truly is a phenomenal player and a leader for his young age. But still, if you have to choose between Lillard and Davis, then have that freedom to have complimentary players around him (I mean no players like LBJ, Steph, KD or anyone like that LOL), I’d still pick AD.

    Never miss that opportunity to grab a player that can greatly affect the game on both sides (especially defense). Building around a player shouldn’t mean he has to carry everything on his back. Everyone is just so much into having this Hero/GOAT approach, that they seem to forget what the game is all about… it is ALWAYS about having the BEST TEAM. Davis doesn’t have to be the go-to-guy in offense, the top scorer, or the most vocal leader… he just needs to be the anchor of their defense and be the motor on their offense. He has the skills to do it, so build a team around that.

    Think of it this way, instead of looking for the next MJ, LBJ, Kobe, Shaq, Magic, Bird, etc… why not look for the next Bill Russell? He may not be in the GOAT conversations, but he without a doubt has WON THE MOST amongst them. 11 rings in 13 seasons, not bad. I know it is not as easy now as it was before, but take a look at TD’s Spurs, which almost had the same approach. They may not have that same dominance, but they have been a relevant and a feared team since 1998 (with 5 championships to boot). Anthony Davis may not be the next big thing, but if done right, he can be a huge part of something great in basketball history.

  6. taekayo says:

    I understand those who are into defending Lillard. He is a phenomenal player and shows a lot of leadership skills for his young age. But still, if you have a chance to have that first pick between Lillard and Davis, then have that freedom to choose complimentary players around him (I mean no players like LBJ, Steph, KD or anyone like that LOL), I’d still pick AD.

    If you have a player that can greatly affect the game on both sides (especially defense), then never miss that opportunity to grab them. Building around a player shouldn’t mean he has to carry everything on his back. Everyone is just so much into having this hero/franchise player/GOAT approach, that they seem to forget what the game is all about… it is ALWAYS about having the best TEAM. Davis doesn’t have to be the go to guy in offense, the top scorer, or the most vocal leader… he just needs to be the anchor of their defense and be the motor on their offense. He has the skills to do it, so built a team with players that would make this team a great one.

    Think of it this way, instead of looking for the next MJ, LBJ, Kobe, Shaq, Magic, Bird, etc… why not look for the next Bill Russell? He may not be in the GOAT conversations, but he without a doubt has WON THE MOST amongst them. 11 rings in 13 seasons, not bad. I know it is not as easy now as it was before, but take a look at Tim Duncan’s Spurs, which almost had the same approach. They may not have that same dominance, but they have been a relevant and a feared team since 1998 (with 5 championships to boot). Anthony Davis may not be the next big thing, but if done right, he can be a huge part of something great in basketball history.

  7. jdfraed says:

    Why do the fans always know more about ball than the folks who get paid to talk about it?

    Lillard all the way. You know, the dude that’s breaking records and posting numbers that got Derrick rose the MVP….

    They sleep.

  8. jdfraed says:

    Yeah why is AD winning this? Isn’t Lillard proving he’s the man right now lol

    Davis is very talented, but a cornering should be a leader. He doesn’t want to lead, just dominate the game.

    Lillard all the way. No contest.

  9. @sha.marz says:

    dame over Anthony . AD obviously can’t lead a team . Where Damian is .. One of the Best to ever play this game is so underated . 100

  10. jkrichy says:

    Screw all these writers! It’s obviously Damian Lillard. Step back and look at the basics of success through “building a team” around any one player: Portland in the moment I doing remarkably better on both ends of the floor than the pelicans because of Damian Lillard. And this is without their other all-star leader Lemarcus Aldridge. Anthony Davis and the pelicans have been trying to rebuild for a long time and has it worked to this point? No. I’d also like to point out that Damian Lillard won rookie of the year in spite of being the #1 pick in the draft.

  11. joe says:

    Brandon Roy and Lillard on the same team.

  12. Nate says:

    They sleep on Dame ALWAYS. JS. #RIPCITY. They can act like AD is a great player to build around, but look how good the build went when the Blazers built around arguably the best PF in the league Lamarcus Aldridge. This team is almost in the same rankings right now as last year with losing 4/5 starters. Like I said, they SLEEP.

  13. Wow says:

    OK Here’s how I see it: Lillard is easily the better franchise cornerstone and its not even close. Sure Davis is extremely skilled but he has yet to prove that he can lead a team whereas Lillard (with help from CJ) is leading the young blazers team into the playoffs, where they’re currently fighting for the 6th seed. Although a lot of the Blazer’s recent success should be credited to their great team chemistry, Lillard is the main reason why they are winning so many games as of late with his brilliant overall play especially towards the end of a tight game. Seems to me like these writers forget about Lillard’s numerous game winners. He plays with a killer instinct which I just haven’t seen consistently from Davis yet. Talent wise, I would say Davis has the slight edge because he’s yet to reach his prime and is still only 22 years old but his durability issues at such a young age should raise a big red flag. Lillard on the other hand has missed a mere two games in his four years in the NBA (just think about that for a sec). To me it just seems ridiculous that all of these writers would take Davis over Lillard. Then again…..Lillard must be used to being snubbed all the time and it seems like it just makes him play even better so I hope he ends up reading this article.

  14. Nitro says:

    Anthony Davis WILL BE THE BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA EVENTUALLY……. IF HE CAN STAY HEALTHY. That’s his biggest issue, his immense talent (on both ends of the court) and upside is useless if he’s not on the floor to showcase it and help his team win.

    That being said I’m starting my franchise with Damian Lillard. Lillard has lead this team to a surprise season, no one expected the Blazers to be in the playoff picture (not even Blazer fans) I sure as hell didn’t. They lost 4 of THEIR 5 STARTERS [Wes Matthews: 3 & D guy who gives 14-16 ppg, Nic Batum a good all around player who stuffs the stat sheet and plays good defense, Robin Lopez and 7 foot rim protector who chips in 10 ppg, and LaMarcus Aldridge one of the best PF’s in the league, a 20-10 guy, and a perennial All-Star. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year; they were expected to win maybe 25-30 games probably less. A lottery pick would come their way in the 2016 Draft and they’d keep rebuilding.

    Despite all of that their the 6th seed in the West (at the time of this writing) and are currently on a 6 game winning streak; with the possibility of being the 5th seed. Now of course the West is down this year (like way down); however that doesn’t diminish what Lillard and the Blazers have accomplished. They can only play in the conference they’re in.

    Lillard is the straw that stirs the drink for that team, without Lillard they’d be the lottery team they were supposed to be. We all know Lillard’s a dynamic scorer (25 ppg this season and that 51 point explosion against the Warriors in which he torched Steph) but now he’s proving that he’s a great leader. Great leadership ability can’t be taught; you either have it or you don’t and Dame has it. Also Dame has been relatively healthy throughout his career, which is a big plus. As Ian Thomsen pointed out Lillard’s maturity is also a great attribute, his ability to step into his new role as THE MAN (at 25 years no less) seamlessly after LA left highlights his maturity and poise that a lot of young players don’t have (and some never obtain). Now of course CJ McCollum deserves a plethora of credit as well as he is balling out of control this season (21 ppg at the time of this writing) and should win the Most Improved Player award by 50 landslides.

    However CJ, Blazers fans, and anybody with brain knows that WITHOUT LILLARD THE BLAZERS WOULD BE THE REBUILDING LOTTERY TEAM THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE.

    What’s crazy is Lillard hasn’t reached his peak yet and will only continue to improve.

    So just to clarify these are the reasons I’m taking Lillard:
    -Great Scorer
    -Maturity
    -Great Leader
    -Potential/Upside
    -Healthy

  15. Otis says:

    OK Here’s how I see it: Lillard is easily the better franchise cornerstone and its not even close. Sure Davis is extremely skilled but he has yet to prove that he can lead a team whereas Lillard (with help from CJ) is leading the young blazers team into the playoffs, where they’re currently fighting for the 6th seed. Although a lot of the Blazer’s recent success should be credited to their great team chemistry, Lillard is the main reason why they are winning so many games as of late with his brilliant overall play especially towards the end of a tight game. Seems to me like these writers forget about Lillard’s numerous game winners. He plays with a killer instinct which I just haven’t seen consistently from Davis yet. Talent wise, I would say Davis has the slight edge because he’s yet to reach his prime and is still only 22 years old but his durability issues at such a young age should raise a big red flag. Lillard on the other hand has missed a mere two games in his four years in the NBA (just think about that for a sec). To me it just seems ridiculous that all of these writers would take Davis over Lillard. Then again…..Lillard must be used to being snubbed all the time and it seems like it just makes him play even better so I hope he ends up reading this article.

  16. Todd says:

    Imagine the two on the same team!

  17. Erin Walker says:

    but no1 brought up AD’s durability issues…Im going with Dame

  18. IDR says:

    Good job snubbing the form ROY… Next week Lillard will be 8′ tall.

  19. sinobas says:

    Cool, so everyone chose Anthony Davis. But whose team is headed towards the playoffs with a roster that was expected to stink, and whose team is 12 games under .500 with a roster that was supposed to be one of the top teams in the West?

  20. Ummm... says:

    Here’s why I’m confused: I see two teams with each respective player on them. I see one team that after tonight may have the 6th spot in the West, with Damian Lillard, CJ, and a ragtag support cast. And I see a team with Anthony Davis that is struggling to stay relevant. Two teams HAVE attempted to build their teams around these guys. Last year Aldridge was arguably the cornerstone of the Blazers team so in a sense the building process with Lillard as the team’s leader has taken less than a year. Anthony Davis is a good player but he hasn’t gotten results out of his team yet. I would rather build a team around Damian Lillard because he knows how to win, and I don’t know what David, Steve, Fran, Scott, Shaun, Sekou, Ian, or Lang are thinking. The end-goal of building a team is to win, and Davis hasn’t shown he can consistently win. Lillard, on the other hand, is a pure-bred winner.

  21. Damien Lillard. Both teams should stink. Damien Lillard makes the Portland Trailblazers better. Anthony Davis is an awesome player, but his team stinks and he has demonstrated no consistent ability to make them better.

  22. Fan of the NBA says:

    SOO00oooo The main reason for not picking Dame as the franchise cornerstone is because he’s not tall…that’s pretty much what I got out of this. So because there are less big men in the league, you would pick Davis over Lillard? That’s like saying there’s not many players under 6’00 in the league, so I’m going to start my franchise around Nate Robinson.
    Here’s a GREAT way to answer this simple question. Who is doing better a the franchise player right now? Both Dame and Davis are franchise players on their respective teams, yet one is in 6th place in the west with a winning record and the other?…just slightly better than Kobe and his students. I know that Davis has had to deal with injuries, but I’d take Anderson, Holiday, Evans, and Eric Gordon over Lillard’s best three teammates in Cj, Crabbe, and Aminu.
    Also Dame is 2 times the leader that AD is. EVERYBODY on the blazers is having career years (besides Chris the caveman) or is at least playing better than usual on this team. Cj is a beast, AMinu can hit threes, Plumlee is turning into a mini Noah, and Crabbe has turned into a black Ginobili. So if I was a gm, I’d be smart and go with Lillard, a true leader that will make his teammates better.

    • jason says:

      Do not give Damian Lillard all the credit for the Blazers this season. If not for the huge improvement of CJ the Blazers would be near the bottom of the western conference. The Pelicans were expected to be good this season, but a lot of injuries, and the fact that they dont have the right roster to play around AD is whats hurting the Pelicans most, not AD’s inability to win.

      • Z says:

        Remember what a HEALTHY AD looks like. He’s everything KAT hopes he can become. Dame is still trying to be an All Star.