There are a TON of offensive options.
Aldridge on if the offense is more complex than in the past: “Yes, it is. [laughs] I’m not tryin’ to throw anybody under the bus, but yes it is. It’s definitely a lot harder to pick up, there’s a lot more options, a lot more movement. I feel like now teams can’t really lock in on me anymore. I feel like I get a one-on-one play, elbow, block or whatever. He [Stotts] has organized chaos a little bit, go fast but guys have lanes, guys have positions to run to so that’s good... A lot of movement, I’m actually having my own problems ‘cause it’s so many options, so may reads, so I think it’s gonna be big for us this year having better movement out there.”
Damian Lillard on the the offensive system: “It’s a really natural offense. It’s a nice motion offense where it’s kinda like everybody is in a flow. I feel like we can all be effective in it. It’s a lot of pick-and-rolls and everything turns into a hand off or a pass to the wing, a screen-and-roll, that’s what I love to do. For a big man you roll and back-screen and popping out, so it’s probably more complicated for them, but I’m a point guard so plays I naturally pick up on them because I need to know.”
LaMarcus Aldridge is ready to “run a marathon” with all of the recent conditioning.
Aldridge on a lot of conditioning: “I think I’ve run a actual marathon in there. If you lose you run two up and downs, if you come in second place you run and then you run to start practice. It’s a lot of running, its good for us though... I’m in great shape now, all this running, I can run anywhere now. It’s crazy, I feel like every time we do anything it’s like running, running, running. But that’s good for us, you know?”
Lillard is learning lessons.
Lillard: “I feel like I’ve
learned a million things already. From just talking to the vets, Jared
Jeffries and Ronnie Price just pulling me to the side and like, ‘Hey on
defense, you need to be here when they come off a ball screen, but
ball-screen defense, I’ve learned a lot of that. A lot of new stuff on
ball-screen defense and initiating offense. It’s a lot different that
what I did in college, so those two things are probably the most
important things I learned.”
On-court chemistry is really developing.
Lillard on who he’s naturally finding on the court: “I think me and J.J., me and LaMarcus, me and Wes, I really feel like we’ll have a connection because I always seem to know where they’re gonna be and I’m comfortable, maybe if I make a pass not quite a perfect pass, I feel like they’ll get it. They got strong hands and they’re aggressive so I think those three.”
The guard core is focused on improvement, not how many minutes they’ll play.
Nolan Smith on the point guard competition: “It’s going great. First things first we’re making each other better, competing. We’re all learning something new and getting better. Ronnie being out there teaching Damian and I some things, but we’re just going out here and playing and competing with each other.”
Smith on feeling he might get minutes at the one and two: “It definitely is. Just talking to the coach before practice and after practice and the way he’s doing things in practice, I’m playing on the ball and I’m playing off the ball, so it feels great. I have to come in and work a little harder at different things as far as off the ball and also learn the point guard position as well. It’s great though, it’s what I’ve worked for and I’m in a great position to play both.”
Lillard on the guards: “It’s shaking out well. We compete in practice and I think right now we’re just making each other better. Nobody’s focused on ‘Oh I want to play this position, I want to be in this group.’ We just tryin’ to make each other better right now.”
Defense will be the identity, no doubt about it.
Smith on defense: “Defense is going great as long as we want to play defense. That’s all defense is about. Coach told us from day one that defense is gonna be our identity and every single day in practice, no matter if our legs is getting to us or not, we’re out here competing and fighting on defense. The offense will come. Everybody can score, everybody is talented enough to put that ball in the hole, but everybody is out here wanting to play defense, so it’s been great.”
Lillard on his defensive abilities: “I can play defense. I think I can get a lot better at pick-and-roll defense because guys are huge and they get their body on you and it’s tough and then you got these guards at this level that are really good. So, it’s tough, but I can stay in front of the ball. Man-on-man I can play good defense, but I need to get better at weak side defense, helping and getting over those picks.”