One year after earning NBA Rookie of the Year honors, Damian Lillard is quickly emerging as a superstar. Lillard showed a lot of promise in his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers and has taken it to another level entirely in his sophomore year.
After draining a game-winning and series-clinching three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left against the Houston Rockets, Lillard is starting to get mentioned as one of the best players in the NBA in clutch situations. Lillard continues to defy the odds with clutch shot after clutch shot and looks up to two players in particular that have excelled in that area.
In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling, Lillard calls former Blazer Brandon Roy and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant two of the best closers in the game:
“I watch a lot of Brandon Roy’s stuff on YouTube all the time. With Brandon, it reminded me of how I am a lot—just getting to your spot and making it happen. And with Kobe, it’s just having that killer attitude—just to go out there to kill and have confidence in what you’re coming to do. They’re both always ready to take the big-time shot.”
Unfortunately for Roy, persistent knee injuries ended his career prematurely. Although Roy left an impression in his short time in the NBA, one can only imagine the kind of impact he would’ve had if able to stay healthy in Portland.
As for Kobe, the future Hall of Famer has made a living out of being dependable in clutch situations. Bryant has hit countless clutch shots during his career while racking up the milestones and collecting five rings in the process.
Lillard picked a solid pair of clutch players to study in order to improve his game by coming through in the most crucial times. All indications show Lillard could be the next great clutch player in the NBA as he’s already started to excel in these situations with the Blazers.
With only two seasons under his belt, Lillard has a bright future ahead in Portland. Although the competition only gets tougher from here on out with the Blazers set to face the San Antonio Spurs in the second round, Portland may pave their way to the Western Conference Finals with Lillard leading the way.
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