Damian Lillard Check Up

What Damian Lillard Does

Despite a poor 42% clip from the field, Lillard sports a more-important 53.5% true shooting percentage (TS%). Basically, that means he’s more efficient than simple field goal percentage makes him out to be. Lillard cashes in on a modest 35% of his three-point attempts, and shoots an exceptional 86% from the line.

As a rookie, Lillard’s 53.5 TS% edges out that of veteran Andre Miller during his two-year swing through Portland. Lillard is outperforming our last point guard in terms of scoring efficiency while simultaneously using a heavy 24.1% of Portland’s possessions while he’s on the floor. Miller never topped 24% during his career.

What Damian Lillard Does Not

Though a large percentage of the Blazers’ play runs through Lillard, he only turns the ball over 2.8 times per game for a 14.8% turnover percentage. This puts him in the same range as Ty Lawson (14.8%), Jose Calderon (15.1%), and the Blazers’ version of Andre Miller (15.3%). Though Lillard’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.1 doesn’t particularly standout, we shouldn’t expect it to. As a scoring point guard—6th among point guards in the league—Lillard’s ratio doesn’t necessarily need to break 3.0. Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook sit at 2.2, Kyrie Irving at 1.75, and Brandon Jennings finds himself at 2.5.

What Damian Lillard Could Do?

Lillard has achieved a level of efficiency not seen from Portland’s point guard position in quite some time, and he has done so as a rookie, while logging the second-most minutes among point guards in the league. There is still room for growth, as Andre Miller is not exactly the gold standard of efficiency for scoring point guards. But even Chris Paul only recorded a 54.2 TS% in his first two years, improving to 58.5% since, so that growth is entirely possible.


10 Responses to Damian Lillard Check Up

  1. Austin Buell says:

    Where does he fall in relation to the entire league for turnover percentage?

    • Matthias Kullowatz says:

      Among the 38 point guards with at least 1000 minutes played this season, Lillard ranks 15th best in TO%.

      Also, even though TO% is a rate statistic, it still shows a statistically significant correlation to usage percentage (USG%). The more responsibility a point guard is given, the higher his probability of turning the ball over each possession–probably due to fatigue. Lillard’s high USG% predicts a TO% of about 15%. As of this morning, Lillard’s 14.7% is right in line with that prediction, so there’s NO evidence there to suggest any kind of harmful regression is coming.

  2. Nick P says:

    What is true shooting percentage? And if a player shoots 35% from the three, isn’t that equivalent to over 50% shooting from two?

    • Matthias Kullowatz says:

      Peachy! True shooting percentage is like a weighted shooting percentage, giving more credit to three-pointers, and scaling free throws also.

      It’s basically trying to find the average number of points a player scores per shot, then dividing by two to make it look more like a percentage.

      So despite Lillard’s FG% of 42%, TS% weights his three pointers and free throws also, giving us a better idea of his scoring efficiency.

      The equation is TS% = (PTS) / [2(FGA + 0.44*FTA)].

      • Nick P says:

        You know I think the best way to think about scoring efficiency is points scored per attempt. So points scored per foul shot (FT%), plus points per 2pt att. (2PT FG% times 2) and add in 3PT FG% times 3 and take that average.

        Isn’t that what’s really important to an offense? With a shot clock nowadays the points you score per attempt is almost the same as how good an offense is. The shot attempts should be ample when you have to shoot every 35 or 24. Certainly the aggressive offense with the highest points scored per attempt is the BEST!

        And it means 1 is the benchmark, and that is sexy.

      • Matthias Kullowatz says:

        Nick, so get this. True shooting percentage isn’t a percentage at all. It’s a trick! If you double the TS%, you get the best estimate for points per shot attempt, where 2.27 free throws is the equivalent of one field goal attempt because that is the NBA average. It’s like an individual’s points per possession, which is exactly what you’re talking about.

      • Nick P says:

        I think this metrics value depends on how you apply it. You can easily keep points per attempt (PPA) stats for situations within the last ten seconds of the shot clock, for a certain player against another player, and even for layups only. Not just from 2, 3 and the line. It seems like a quantitative way to guide an efficient offense over a season. Do teams even think about this stuff enough???

      • Matthias Kullowatz says:

        I’m sure some teams look at this stuff. When you start looking at situational efficiency, often times the sample sizes get too small.

        But if we compare Lillard’s efficiency on jumpers vs. inside, we see that he scores 0.96 points per shot on jumpers vs. 1.03 points per shot inside. Additionally, we can assume that he draws more fouls when he gets to the basket, adding hidden efficiency to his inside game.

        82games.com has some neat stuff about efficiency during different times on the shot clock, too. Here’s Lillard’s page:

  3. Thank you so much. Attempted quite some time and different views, yours was terrific.

    • Matthias Kullowatz says:

      Yes. Your knowledge of both what to do with kids during the winter and Damian Lillard is astounding.

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