Today, ESPN.com's David Thorpe releases his list of which veteran players individuals from the 2013-13 rookie class should try to emulate
. In regards to Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard, Thorpe suggests he pay attention to another point guard from California who also played his college ball in Utah, former Trail Blazer Andre Miller.
Miller is the best lob passer (with apologies to Chris Paul) and hit-ahead guard in the game. He reads the court horizontally and in two dimensions vertically -- down the floor and up in the air, creating buckets for teammates even when the defense thinks they are in solid position. Getting points for your team when a lesser passer wouldn't is what separates great guards from good ones.
Lillard, with those abilities, would seem to be an All-Star lock down the road. Learning to read the game would also help him play more efficiently and save energy in the process -- part of the reason why Miller is still playing so well at 37 years of age.
Thorpe talked more about how the benefits of Lillard patterning his game after Miller on TrueHoop TV yesterday with Henry Abbott
And though it wasn't for his on-court performance, Lillard did draw a comparison to Miller regarding his toughness in a story written by The Oregonian's Joe Freeman
Lillard is one of just 39 players in the NBA — and the lone person on his own team — to play in every game this season. His basketball ability is so dynamic and so polished, its easy to forget that Lillard also is quickly proving to be one of the toughest and most durable players in the NBA.
“He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Andre Miller since Andre Miller,” Blazers trainer Jay Jensen said, referring to the former Blazers point guard and one-time NBA Iron Man who played in 632 consecutive games before a suspension ended the streak. “Damian is one of the toughest I’ve seen.”
If Lillard could pattern parts of his game after Miller's while also being as durable, there's a very good chance he could surpass Terry Porter as the most successful point guard in Trail Blazers history.