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A Play by Play Review of Lillard's Debut - Pinwheel Empire

A Play by Play Review of Lillard’s Debut

submitted 6 years ago by in Game Recaps


Re-watching the first summer league game today, I thought I’d take a more in depth look at Lillard’s offensive involvement in his debut. I logged every play in which Lillard either attempted to score or was the set-up man, a total of 47 plays. Listing them all here would just be tedious so here are the basics and some observations in the form of highlights and lowlights.




Of the 47 posessions Lillard used this was the situational breakdown:

  • 22 (47%) had him working off a pick
     - Leonard was by far the most common screener (13 of the 22)
  • 12 (26%) had him isolated against a single defender
     - This was primarily Rivers but also Roberts and a couple of switches against bigs
  • 7 (15%) were in transition
  • 2 (4%) were spot up shots
  • 4 (8%) were undefined
     - These were primarily plays where Lillard made a basic perimeter pass preceding a  shot, early in the clock (ie. no picks provided, no attempt to break down man etc)

What tended to result from the possessions Lillard used:

  • 21 (45%) ended in shot attempts by Lillard
     -  11 inside attempts, 3 two point jump-shots and 7 three point attempts
  • 4 (8%) ended in turnovers
     - 3 by Lillard himself, one on a moving screen by Leonard which would’ve otherwise been an assist to Babbitt
  • 22 (47%) ended in shot attempts by teammates 
     - 9 were inside attempts, with 3 resulting in drawn fouls
     - 1 resulted in a 2 point jumpshot
     - 12 went to three point shooters, who made just 2 of them (17%)


In the PnR:

  • Lillard shot 3/9 with 1 foul drawn and another make plus the foul
  • Teammates receiving the pass after the pick went 3/9 with  2 fouls drawn
  • 2 ended in turnovers, 1 from Lillard, 1 on a moving pick
In isolation:
  • Lillard shot 5/9 with 2 and makes plus the foul
  • Teammates receiving a pass shot 1/2
  • 1 posession resulted in the ball being stripped and a turnover
In transition:
  • Lillard shot 0/1
  • Teammates shot 2/4 with 1 foul drawn and 1 make plus the foul
  • 1 bad pass was intercepted for a turnover
Spotting up:
  • Lillard shot 1/2, both from three point range
Other plays:
  • Passed to Wes curling off a screen for an assist
  • Other 3 were passes to spot up three point shooters, who went 1/3

The best plays of the game in my view were the three PnRs involving Lillard and Leonard that were executed pretty much to perfection. The first play of the was a textbook PnR that resulting in a layup for Leonard. The alley oop early in the third where Babbitt was actually the screener was a beautiful play and the one that took the cake for me was the pass to a rolling Leonard than resulted in an absurd dunk attempt and 2 FTs near the end of the game. 
Lillard also showed a good knack for finding open spot up three point shooters, whether off penetration or by making a simple perimeter pass to guys coming off screens. Of the 12 three point shots attempted from Lillard passes, 3 were by Babbitt and 4 were by Diebler, two of the best three point shooters on the globe. Good chance they do better than the 2/7 they made in this game next time around and an even better chance that the rest of the team does better than 0/5 off Lillard passes. For those who are into pseudo-assists, the spot up shooting was the place to look in this game.
Another highlight for me was Lillards ability to easily dribble and finish either way – he used picks in different ways and used subtle changes of direction to his advantage frequently. That type of versatility should serve him well if he can translate it in regular season play.


Overall, Lillard showed a good balance between looking for his own and distributing the ball but in end of quarter situations and as the game wound down, there were a few possessions where he had the old Jay Bay tunnel vision look going on. The results were ugly outside of the step back three he nailed with 25 seconds to go. Something to watch for in the next few games.

An explanation for Lillard’s early struggles comes through pretty clearly in this analysis – he was pushing far too hard at the beginning of the game. 18 of the 47 plays he was the primary playmaker in came during that first quarter and the result was 4 missed shots (several bad looks) and 2 TOs. Good to see he calmed down after that.

While this was designed to me a look at his offensive performance, Lillard could benefit from a more ball hawking attitude defensively. His one on one D was solid against a good dribble drive threat like Rivers, but there were several points in the game where a ball appeared to by 50/50 or at least worth a shot and Lillard didn’t make a move for it. Another thing I’ll be watching closely in the upcoming games.



 Overall, it was a pretty exceptional turnaround Lillard made to turn what looked like a disastrous debut into a stellar one. His team mates could’ve helped him out both early on and later in the game by making some of the pretty easy shots Lillard created for them but hopefully we’ll see that in the near future. Finally, the chemistry between Lillard and Leonard on the PnR was by far the most fun thing to see in this game and long may that continue. We need them to bring the alley oop back to Rip City! 


P.S. There is more detailed information that I logged while watching the game so if you have any questions about a particular possession or passage of play, just ask in the comments.