Grading the New York Giants 1st Round

First Round Pick 6: Daniel Jones, QB

With the Giants desperately needing a QB, with Dwayne Haskins available, they reached for the Duke QB Daniel Jones. The organization has cited his connection to the Manning family and his size as the factors for them making this decision. While Jones was ranked as a mid-second round talent, the Giants felt the urge to grab him with their top pick. In three seasons at Duke, completing about 60% of his passes, losing a notable 59-7 blowout loss vs. Wake Forest where he threw for 145 yards, 1 TD and 1 pick, Jones was a massive reach and is a projected back up in the NFL. There were many good pass rushers on the board, and this pick was questionable at best. Grade: F

First Round Pick 17: Dexter Lawrence, DL

With need to bolster the defensive line up front, the Giants chose to grab the national championship winning defensive end. At 340 pounds, Lawrence notched 18 tackles for loss and has shown he can be an effective run stopper and has shown ability to get to the QB as well. This pick makes sense for a team with needs on the defensive line. Grade: B+

First Round Pick 30: DeAndre Baker, CB

As the Giants needed to rebuild their secondary, they selected the corner out of Georgia. In his career he totaled 7 interceptions and has shown he can be quick on his feet and stay in front of receivers. While this pick is rather vanilla, it makes sense and is a fine addition to this train wreck of a team. Grade: B+

Overall, the major stain on this draft and the worst pick in the first round being Daniel Jones will set the Giants back a couple of years, as he has not proven he can be a franchise QB, let alone a starter in the NFL. This draft, along with this offseason, Dave Gettleman has shown to be a completely incompetent GM, as the ownership has been totally caught up in their emotions with Eli Manning and feels the need to appease him at every turn, no matter how old and no matter how much he has deteriorated as a player. Tonight, the Giants could have taken a major step in the right direction. Instead, they took three steps backwards. Overall Draft Grade: D+

Why the Giants Have Hit Rock Bottom

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After hiring Dave Gettleman to replace Jerry Reese, the Giants have gone 5-11 and have had their majority of struggles. With a 38-year-old quarterback in a sharp decline, the team’s commitment to Eli Manning has handcuffed the Giants ability to do what they need to do- rebuild. Despite throwing for 21 TDs, 11 Ints and nearly 4,300 yards, Eli was less than spectacular last season (and the season before). Due to the fact that ownership and Gettleman have both agreed to hold onto Eli Manning, who will come at the expense of $17 million against the cap, their emotional connection to the QB has put the Giants in a very bad spot.

To start this offseason, Gettleman refused to franchise tag pro-bowl safety Landon Collins for $11 million, a move that had Giants fans scratching their heads. This situation parallels to what Gettleman did in Carolina, as he also let star cornerback Josh Norman walk out the door for nothing. For a team with a suspect defense, letting a defensive playmaker go for nothing does not seem like a smart move.

Gettleman also traded Olivier Vernon to the Browns for right guard Kevin Zeiter. While this move made a lot of sense for a team that needs help on the offensive line, Gettleman did not stop there.

After saying to reporters at the combine that “we didn’t sign (Odell) to trade him” Gettleman did just the opposite. Despite Beckham not requesting a trade, he was shopped to the Browns in exchange for a mid-first round pick, a late third round pick and safety Jabril Peppers. The idea that you should build your offense around a superstar running back in Saquon Barkley and a superstar wideout in Odell Beckham Jr. is a quite simple one. However, if they felt it was best to trade Beckham, I wouldn’t see a problem with that- except in this case.

A first and a third-round pick are not nearly a high enough ticket to trade Beckham for. Including Peppers in the trade sounds good in theory, but he is only here to replace Landon Collins, who left in exchange for nothing. Not to mention the $21 million cap hit the Giants will suffer in this deal. This trade shows that the Giants have no direction and really no idea what they are doing.

Now all these moves could in theory make sense, pointing to a rebuild. However, the one constant through all of them is the QB, Eli Manning. Despite a clear decline, the Giants have been hellbent on keeping the 38-year-old. As long as he is on this roster, the Giants will remain a complete mess.

To recap, no Landon Collins, no Odell Beckham Jr., yes Eli Manning. This is essentially the Giants message to the fans and players.

Eli Manning should not be the quarterback. Pat Shurmur should not be the coach. Dave Gettleman should not be the GM. This team has become similar to the likes of the 2013-17 Jets or Browns, with no direction of where they are going, roaming around in the dark completely helpless. Until the QB, coach and GM change hands, we will continue to find ourselves in the NFL abyss.

The silver lining in all of this is that assuming we do not re-sign Eli Manning, the Giants are expected to have nearly $100 million in cap space next season.

But until then, buckle up. Because it’s going to be a very unpleasant ride.

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a sophomore at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

 

 

Od(e)ll’s Future in Bi(g) Blue- Why it Might be Cut Sh(o)rt

Buyer’s Remorse?

At the beginning of the season, the Giants paid their all-pro wideout $95 million over 5 years. While this contract gave the Giants a big headline, they still had some trepidations about doing this. Some doubts were cast due to his sideline tantrums, his “me first” mentality and the ankle injury he suffered last season. They gave him the contract with the assumption that he would transform into a leader and that all of those problems would go away.

It’s safe to say that they might be feeling a little bit differently after the Giants 1-4 start.

The Giants have a very bad offensive line, as Nate Soldier has been a disappointment thus far. Additionally, and more importantly, the bet that Dave Gettleman made by drafting Saquon Barkley and sticking with Eli Manning isn’t exactly working out as planned. Manning has looked old, scared and maxed out. Despite the offensive line struggles, Manning hasn’t done anything when he has time in the pocket in spirts throughout the game. He’s reluctant to throw the ball down the field, frustrating OdellBeckham, Jr. so much that he publicly questioning the Giants QB in an interview with rapper Lil Wayne this weekend.

The Interview

Odell Beckham, Jr. was featured on an ESPN special with Lil Wayne. Hewas asked various questions about the Giants progress over the season.  He criticized the Giants offense and essentially threw Manning and the coaching staff under the bus. While he was fully correct about Manning’spoor play, is it right for the wide receiver to say that publicly? He then began to talk about himself, because he is in fact a diva receiver. He complained about not getting enough targets “like some other receivers get.”When asked if he is happy in NYC, he said, “That’s a tough question.”

Beckham Jr.’s responses should deeply concern Giants fans. We knew he was a diva, and we simply swept it under the rug and said that he was talented enough to deal with it. But he showed yet another level of selfishness that could end up hurting the team more than helping it. After the Giants devastating loss to the Panthers on Sunday, Beckham, Jr. said that he was unapologetic about his comments and believes that they actuallyallowed the team to come together. I find that implausible.

 

Trade Rumors

This offseason, everyone seemed to ignore the Beckham, Jr. trade rumors, and the fact that he had voiced his desire to be in Los Angeles with the Rams, reportedly telling other players he “wanted in.” It is clear that Beckham Jr. only signed the Giants contract because he wanted to secure a deal. But let’s not kid ourselves: he wants to be in Los Angeles. And it’s clear
that the Rams, the number one offense in the NFL, didn’t really think he was necessary—something that is deeply concerning. A team follows their leader. But if their leader is selfish, they’ll have nobody to follow. With a player as volatile as Beckham Jr., I don’t think the organization or the fans should rule out those trade rumors just yet.

Who is Odell?

Beckham Jr. is a super talented wide receiver, but whether or not he is a winner is the question that we have yet to answer. When the Giants went 11-5 two seasons ago, he was chilling on a boat before they got crushed by the Packers- and he had three drops.

We know Odell wants to be a Drake-like celebrity and public figure. We know he wants to be on House of Highlights, making amazing one-handed catches. But does he really want to be a playoff contender year in and year out? Does he truly want to win a Super Bowl? Or will he be satisfied with 1,500 receiving yards and 100 receptions each season?

These are still question marks. The Giants gave Beckham Jr. a contract prematurely. Now they need to wait this out and play the season out. If things don’t change, alarms are sure to sound.

We must hope that Beckham, Jr. can galvanize this team and bring them together.
We must hope that his antics and selfish attitude don’t poison this team like those traits of a Chad Johnson, Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel.

If we don’t see a change, there’s going to be trouble in the Big Apple.

Image via https://www.express.co.uk/sport/othersport/1027545/Odell-Beckham-Jr-New-York-Giants-lack-heart-energy-NFL-news

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a sophomore at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

Possible Destinations for LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers

Free Agents: No significant free agents

Advantages:Cleveland is his city. If a star is willing to sign with Cleveland, he should consider staying.

Disadvantages:They are an old, terrible team with little cap space. LeBron has a bad relationship with ownership as well. He should leave immediately.

Los Angeles Lakers

Free Agents: Julius Randle, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brook Lopez

Advantages: They are a young, up and coming team. He could help young players develop; he should only go if another star joins him.

Disadvantages: Too young of a team, players haven’t fully developed, can’t legitimately compete for a championship for at least a couple years with this current core.

Houston Rockets

Free Agents: Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela (R)

Advantages: The combination of Chris Paul, James Harden and LeBron James has the potential to be lethal. With the shooting depth on the Rockets, they could legitimately contend with and beat the Golden State Warriors.

Disadvantages: May have to take a small pay cut, might take more time than expected to develop good chemistry.

Philadelphia Sixers

Free Agents: JJ Redick

Advantages: Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have superstar potential.

Disadvantages: Too young of a team, players haven’t fully developed, can’t legitimately compete for a championship for at least a couple years. Ben Simmons and LeBron play similarly and it would cause chemistry problems.

Boston Celtics

Free Agents: Nobody significant

Advantages: The combination of Brad Steven’s basketball knowledge combined with LeBron’s could be lethal and potentially resemble the dominance of a Brady- Belichick duo. LeBron would run the show.

Disadvantages: Acquiring LeBron would most likely mean Hayward, Brown, Kyrie or Tatum would be traded. This could lead to tension with a possible Kyrie-LeBron meet up if he isn’t moved, which would cause them to potentially lose their star PG in free agency. It doesn’t really make sense and it would be LeBron jumping on the bandwagon even though he beat them in 7 (without Kyrie or Hayward).

Golden State Warriors

Advantages: Would probably win 3-5 more NBA finals.

Disadvantages: His legacy will be tarnished.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Free Agents: Paul George, Carmelo Anthony

Advantages: Would have enough talent to defeat the Warriors, should only go if George re-signs.

Disadvantages: Chemistry might be problematic, Westbrook would not play second-fiddle to LeBron, would have to take a pay cut assuming George and Carmelo signed the max.

Milwaukee Bucks

Free Agents: Jabari Parker (R)

Advantages: Would be the missing piece, joining forces with Giannis would be dominant enough to threaten the Warriors

Disadvantages: Do not have enough shooting to compete with the Warriors, Giannis may not be able to reach his full potential due to being the second option.

New York Knicks

Free Agents: Nobody significant

Advantages: Would get to play alongside KP, which could potentially win the Eastern Conference.

Disadvantages: Poorly run organization, too young of a team for LeBron to see any success.

I believe that it would be in LeBron’s best interests to leave Cleveland and sign with the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Lakers. Either of those teams, with the right adjustments, could legitimately threaten the Golden State Warriors for an NBA title.

Where do you think the King will go?

Image via http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/news/lebron-james-nba-rumors-free-agency-lakers-news-2018-contract-cavs-paul-george/1p3xiwxeglwpk1erfc7fp2pw9v

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a sophomore at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

 

 

 

Kawhi Leonard’s Future in San Antonio

10506973.jpgAfter just nine games this season, Kawhi Leonard voluntarily sat out for the remainder of the Spurs regular season through the playoffs, as they were downed by the Golden State Warriors in five games.

With many questions surrounding Leonard’s future with the Spurs, there have been discussions around NBA circles about Leonard being on the move, as he has a player option on his contract for 2019. He also has an option for a 5-year $219 million super-max extension this offseason. Relations between Leonard and the Spurs have clearly soured.

He was accused, rightly so, of quitting on the Spurs this season, and assuming he requests a trade, the Spurs will likely move him. It would be wise of them to move him if he is non-committal due to his value in the open market. If Leonard has lost interest in playing for the Spurs, they should not hesitate to trade him due to the fact that his injury leaves us uncertain of how he will return. Here are some possible trade scenarios that the San Antonio Spurs should consider:

Boston Celtics

Price: 2018 first rounder (via Lakers), Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum

The Spurs could begin to immediately rebuild while being able to win now. With LaMarcus Aldridge as their primary option, they will have a top pick to surround him with, as well as two young studs in Brown and Tatum. It would be very hard to trade Tatum, but for a guy as talented as Leonard, I think it’s worth it. The Celtics could legitimately be the favorites in the East with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Leonard and Al Horford at the helm.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Price: 2018 first rounder (via Cavaliers), Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle (sign & trade)

San Antonio would be put in a rebuilding position, as Ingram is still developing. The Lakers could bring in Leonard to potentially pair with a LeBron James/Paul George combination, along with the rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. This could be a very interesting dynamic, as this team could really challenge the frontrunners in the West for years to come.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Price: 2019 first rounder (via Kings), Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric

This core could also really help the Spurs rebuild. With Fultz somewhat out of place in Philly, he has proven that his potential is quite high. The Sixers would be the immediate favorites in the East if they paired Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, along with their shooters and 3 and D role players.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Price: 2018 first rounder (via Nets), Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr.

This deal is going to put the Spurs in a rebuilding position, as they would look to acquire talent for the future and develop Nance and Clarkson. This deal would most likely only be considered by Cleveland if James agrees to sign long term, which at this point, looks unlikely unless they can acquire a talent like George or DeMarcus Cousins.

 

New York Knicks

Price: 2018 first rounder, 2020 first rounder, Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway, Jr.

This deal is highly unrealistic, but as a Knicks fan, I had to include it.

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Price: 2018 first rounder, Eric Bledsoe, Jabari Parker

Putting Leonard next to Giannis Antetokounmpo could make for an impenetrable defense as well as an explosive full court offense. These two resemble each other in length and explosiveness and paired with Malcom Brogdon and Kris Middleton could make for a lethal threat to any team in the NBA.

 

Who is the best suitor for Kawhi Leonard?

I believe if he joins forces with the Philadelphia 76ers, they can be favorites to win it all in the next couple of years. The Boston Celtics have the most value to offer for Kawhi, and they would also be a good spot for him. However, I believe the best destination is Philly.

Deals are based on projected value Spurs would ask for.

Cap space was not considered in these trades, as some of them may need to be refined if they were to actually be considered. Additionally, the pieces that would also be sent with Kawhi were not addressed due to their relative insignificance for this particular article.

IMAGE VIA: https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/eight_most_likely_kawhi_leonard_trade_scenarios/s1_12680_26244548

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

 

 

 

Giants NFL Draft: What’s the move?

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After a 3-13 season, the Giants had struggles all over the field. Injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall, coupled with a poorly constructed offensive line caused the Giants to fall off the rails last season. The sheer incompetence of Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese is also to blame.

New general manager Dave Gettleman is looking to build this team back up to the top and has already started to implement changes. With the acquisition of Alec Ogletree, Gettleman is making it a point to have a good line backing core – something the Giants have lacked for years. By trading Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants freed up cap space and acquired a third-round pick, making it clear that they want no deadweight contracts on their roster. Better yet, he is also addressing the offensive line issues by signing Nate Soldier, a solid left tackle who can finally protect Eli Manning’s blindside.

Gettleman has done a solid job in free agency and with trades, but now comes the biggest test of all. With the number two overall pick in the draft, an aging quarterback, a still-rebuilding offensive line, very little running game and scarce cornerbacks, the Giants could make a lot of different moves. Here are some of the options:

Option #1: Take Saquon Barkley (scouting report below)

Saquon Barkley is one of the most talented guys in the draft, putting the world on notice last year at Penn State. His technique, speed and skill set parallel those of Todd Gurley and Zeke Elliot. However, many argue that running backs are easily replaceable and a “dime a dozen” as well. If they add him, they could have a potentially deadly offense with an OBJ and Barkley tandem. While this could prove unstoppable, the offensive line might not be able to bring that combo to its full potential.

Option #2: Take Sam Darnold/Josh Rosen/Josh Allen (scouting reports below)

Eli Manning is 38 years old and has only two years left, maximum. Many would argue that a QB needs to be taken. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Josh Allen could learn under Manning for a year and then step in and be ready to win. However, many also argue that none of these three guys are the real deal. If a QB isn’t a sure-fire Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, should you spend the number two pick on them? You could end up with Alex Smith or Sam Bradford instead.

Option #3: Trade Down

The Colts traded their number three pick in exchange for the number six, 37, 49 and a 2019 second-rounder. That being said, the number two pick is worth more, and the Giants potential trade partners in the Cleveland Browns (4), Denver Broncos (5), Miami Dolphins (11), Buffalo Bills (12, 22) and even the Arizona Cardinals (15) could make a deal feasible. If the Colts traded down three spots to receive three additional picks, I’m sure the Giants could get solid value by trading down two or three spots with the Browns or Broncos. However, if the Giants trade down eight or nine picks with the Dolphins and Bills respectively, they could receive a king’s ransom, and may want to consider that due to the significant help they need on the offensive line, as well as the need for a QB (Lamar Jackson maybe) and cornerbacks.

Other Possible Options

The Giants can draft OG Quentin Nelson or DE Bradley Chubb as well. While these two players are exceptional talents, I don’t believe they should pass up on Barkley if they keep number two. That being said, I think if they trade down (depending on the team), they should end up selecting one of the two – preferably Nelson – to bolster the offensive line.

Conclusion

If the Giants decide to stand pat and keep the number two pick, they should draft Barkley. His talent is special and comes around very rarely. However, if they trade the number two pick, a likely trade partner would be the Buffalo Bills. They would most likely receive the number 12 and 22 picks, as well as a few second and or third round picks for the future. However, if they can court the Browns to agree to a trade, they could still get a hefty amount given the number of picks the Browns have at their disposal.

Opinion

I am a huge fan of Barkley and want the Giants to draft him. However, they need to trade the pick because they need to acquire more picks, which will help them solidify the multiple holes the team still has.

Full scouting report summary by @AdemiSmithScout

Sam Darnold: Darnold has all the physical tools to dominate at the NFL level as a pocket passer. However, below average decision-making ability and poor ball security hinder him. Poor OL and WR play hurt him and unfortunately caused him to develop some poor habits. Has the arm strength to make NFL throws and flashed upside with his accuracy. If his decision making, ball security, and touch are coached up he can be a franchise QB. A long-term pick who will require development and time before he shows his full potential.

Josh Allen: Extremely raw prospect with rare combination of size, athleticism, and arm strength. Is still learning how to use his arm and currently has below average accuracy. Lacks touch and the ability to hit receivers in stride. Played in very simple offense and habitually made ill advised throws to covered receivers. Very good athlete with the ability to outmuscle some DL and outrun some LB in space. Physical player with raw strength. Gets lost when inside the pocket and has no clue what pressure is around him. Long term investment

Josh Rosen: Pocket passer with potential to run any offense like a well-oiled machine. Strong mental processing skills with ability to diagnose defenses and quickly go through reads. Arm talent to float the ball in awkward areas and quickly squeeze through tight windows. Very fundamentally sound, with coachable low release. Natural pocket player stands tall and can sense the pressure. Concerns with inability to extend plays due to lack of mobility, which may result in excess of hits which is concerning considering injury history.

Saquon Barkley: Game changing RB who can become a consistent All-Pro. Rare athlete who can outrun, and outmaneuver any defender. Not a physical runner but can convert inside on short yardage situations. Vision to hit any hole with quickness to utilize cut back lanes. Very consistent ball security. Raw in the passing game but has the athleticism to terrorize LBs and DBs. Good pass blocker but needs to avoid dropping helmet to block.

What do you think the Giants should do?

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).

The Most Underrated Player in the NBA

He has never been associated with the best of the best around the league, always being shoved aside for the highlight reels of Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving. The Houston Rockets’ tandem of Chris Paul and James Harden has taken the league by storm, garnering hype about a potential Western Conference Finals. Controversy in Washington over John Wall and his relationship with the Wizards has caused analysts to debate his importance to the team. How about the Isaiah Thomas trade train that has made headlines? In his 6th season in the NBA, this point guard has found himself in many conversations around NBA circles. He has been called underrated by some. Overrated by others. He has been snubbed from multiple All-Star Games. He didn’t play at Kentucky or Duke and doesn’t play in New York or Los Angeles. He has specifically said he doesn’t want to join a super team, and has never been problematic in his locker room, only inspiring. Now, he is putting the league on notice. The question is, what time is it?

Game Time?

Nope.

It’s Dame Time.

This season, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard has been a force to be reckoned with. He’s averaging just under 27 PPG, 6.5 APG and 4.5 RPG on 45% from the field, 37% from three and 91% from the stripe. He has had a 50-point game, two 40-point games and 18 30-point games this season. In the last four games Lillard has scored 35 (4 threes), 39 (6 threes) and 37 (8 threes) as part of the current 8-game win streak the Blazers find themselves on. The Portland Trail Blazers are 3rd in the west by a game and a half at this moment.

He has made 3 All-Star Games, won rookie of the year and is a 2-time All-NBA Team player in his career.

Lillard’s Accomplishments

Lillard has led the Blazers to the playoffs the last four seasons with their second-best player being C.J. McCollum, who has proven to be an All-Star-caliber talent. Jusuf Nurkic has proven to be their only other formidable talent and a legitimate (though not elite) starting center. Other than those two, the Blazers are filled with supplementary fringe role players. In the 2014-15 season, the Blazers lost to the Memphis Grizzles in the first round. The following season, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wes Mathews all left the team, and Lillard the only remaining starter. In the 2015-16 season, the Blazers not only made the playoffs, but they beat the L.A. Clippers in 6 games and advanced to the second round before losing to a 73-win Golden State Warriors team.

Compared to Other Elite Point Guards

Just to be clear, the modern-day point guard doesn’t necessarily reflect a “true point guard” like a Magic Johnson, Steve Nash or Rajon Rondo. The elite “point guards” in the NBA are really combo guards, other than Chris Paul, Mike Conley, Ben Simmons, Lonzo Ball and other guys that have that style of passing first and running the offense as the primary focus.

Where does he stack up against the league’s best?

Steph Curry

Steph Curry is a two-time NBA MVP and a two-time NBA champion. However, his numbers this season are nearly identical and slightly better than Lillard’s (26.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.2 RPG, 92% FT, 49% FG). We also have to acknowledge the fact that when playing with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, it can make life a lot easier. That being said, let’s not ignore the fact that the Warriors would be in the same position if you swapped Lillard and Curry. We understand Curry’s limitless range as the greatest shooter of all time. But we cannot ignore the significantly better pieces Curry has around him. As a rational thinker, I’m going to say Curry is better than Lillard. However, the gap is not as wide as many may believe.

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is averaging nearly a triple-double (25.3 PPG, 10.2 APG, 9.7 RPG) on the Oklahoma City Thunder. But despite acquiring All-Star forward Paul George and scoring machine Carmelo Anthony, the team sits at the 7th seed in the West, with significantly more talent than Portland. Westbrook has played with James Harden, Kevin Durant and Victor Oladipo throughout his career. Those players all left the Thunder (at different times) and were significantly better on their new respective teams. Harden transformed into an offensive superstar, Durant became more efficient and well-rounded, and Oladipo went from averaging 16 PPG and 44% shooting to 24 PPG and 48% shooting. Westbrook’s lack of selflessness (despite his high assist totals) shows that when the game is on the line, he usually comes up short. Lillard has played with far less talent, yet has advanced further in the playoffs than expected on multiple occasions.

Other than the fact that Westbrook jumps higher and gets a few more assists, why is he undisputedly better than Lillard?

He’s not. You could make the argument that he is though.

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving has made a fantastic transition to Boston, as he was traded from Cleveland at the beginning of the season. He had an issue playing with LeBron James and wanted to be the star on his own team. Although Boston has a promising future and Irving has had a great season, his numbers don’t quite match up to Lillard’s as he is averaging 24.8 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.7 RPG. Irving is certainly a superstar, but who’s to say he is a better player than Lillard? Has he led a team on his own to the playoffs? The Cavs saw no playoff success in Kyrie’s first three seasons before James returned. Lillard didn’t have a problem getting to the postseason in his second season.

Other than the fact that Kyrie has one of the nastiest handles in the NBA, why is he undisputedly better than Lillard?

He’s not. You could make the argument that he is though.

John Wall

John Wall has been a hot topic of conversation inside the Wizards locker room. Teammates have complained about him on and off the record, and the Wizards seem to play better as a team when he is off the court. Playing alongside Bradley Beal, a player similar to C.J. McCollum, as well as legitimate starters such as Otto Porter, Markeiff Morris and Marcin Gortat, the Wizards have repeatedly come up short when it counts most. Wall has been injured for about half the season, yet his numbers don’t even come close to Lillard’s. There should not even be a discussion about who is better between the two players.

Other than the fact that he runs faster, why is Wall undisputedly better than Lillard?

He is not. No argument would be sufficient that Wall is better.

Chris Paul

Since joining James Harden in Houston, the Rockets have looked like a real threat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. Chris Paul is one of the few true point guards left in the NBA. While he is a better true point guard than Lillard, he is not a better overall player. He’s older and more savvy, yet he’s never advanced past the second round in the playoffs. There’s something to be said about that.

If you want to say he’s a better player, you should make sure not to confuse “point guard” and “player.”

Lillard has started to become recognized around the league, and now it’s time for people to give him some respect. Dame isn’t your average good starting point guard like Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley. He isn’t an ordinary star. He is a superstar. Lillard said it himself when asked where he ranks himself among guards in the NBA, and there is nothing that any of them can do that he can’t.

Recognize greatness. Put some respect on the 0.  

Image via https://freddieof.deviantart.com/art/Damian-Lillard-png-PNG-back-jersey-689033503

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

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