Well that sure was insane, wasn’t it? In a series that carried out like a UFC slugfest, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trailblazers took turns swinging on each other for five must-watch contests. Last night Damian Lillard decided he had enough and delivered a historic performance to lift his Blazers passed the first round of the Playoffs for the first time in three years. His game-winning shot will go down in history as one of the greatest ever, but more importantly, his shot was a prime example of where the League is headed for the foreseeable future.
“It was a bad shot,” according to Paul George. The 37-foot power-dribbled fader that Lillard sunk to send the Thunder home early was, to the casual NBA fan, a miracle. But for Lillard- who used the shot to complete his 50-point evening- the shot wasn’t bad, or even lucky. Lillard had been flawless from the logo against OKC dropping 5 of 5 bombs that hit their target from 30 feet or more. And it’s not even like Dame just had a good series, the dude shot 39% on the season from 30 feet or further. Compare that to his resident trash-talking brodie Russell Westbrook, who shot a paltry 29% this season from 3-point range, you can see that this is more than just a random coincidence this shot went in. No, this my friends is a weapon.
This isn’t a total shocker, right? I mean we’ve seen Steph Curry change the modus operandi of the NBA with his dazzling shooting and unlimited range in such a way that it was just a matter of time till other players caught up. Lillard may be an elite example, but players around the League are trending towards deeper and deeper shots to stretch the defense out. While this shift has definitely hurt your local YMCA pick-up games, pros like Lillard, James Harden, Buddy Hield, and Trae Young have turned deep threes into a seemingly normal piece in their arsenal. Shots that would have gotten you immediately benched 5 years ago are now shots that many coaches encourage if the player is open.
This means a shift away from skill sets like Westbrook’s, whose inability to show consistency from the 3-point line (let alone from deeper than that) is slowly proving to be a factor in his lack of…