Damian Lillard is quietly becoming one of the greatest scorers in NBA history

You probably already know that Damian Lillard lost 71 points against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. He did it in just 39 minutes with a total shooting distance of 420 feet, an unprecedented achievement in NBA history, or in the case of the latter, since the beginning of the era of shot location tracking (1996-97).

If you’re interested in learning more about Lillard’s crazy performance numbers, check out a work of our Sam Quinnwhich notes, among other statistics, that Lillard is only the second player in history to join Kobe Bryant in two 60-point games in two different seasons (2022-23, 2019-20), which I cannot fully wrap my head.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to score 60 points in an NBA game? LeBron James, now officially recognized as the all-time leading scorer, has only done so once in his career. Lillard has done it twice this season alone and five times in total.

Speaking of the victory over LeBron, Lillard scored 71 points on Sunday, the 15th time he has scored at least 50 points in a game, one more than LeBron’s 14 points.

In other words, Lillard now has more 50-, 60-, and 70-point games than the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and he has scored those marks in 10 fewer seasons than James.

The only active player to score more than 50 points on Lillard’s 15 is James Harden, who has 23 points. But the most points Harden has ever scored in a single game is 61. Lillard has reached that mark twice and surpassed it once.

Stephen Curry’s career peak is 62, less than Lillard’s 71, and his 11 50-point games are also behind Lillard’s total, as are Kevin Durant’s nine.

All of which means we’ve come to a point where we kind of have to start talking about Lillard as one of the greatest scorers of all time. From a high ceiling standpoint, no one has proven more explosive, and even from an average standpoint, it’s on par with the best of the best over the past half century.

He made the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. It was well deserved. But this guy is far from over. He is 32 years old. He currently has 19,026 career points. If he played six more years, just 60 games a season, and averaged 25 points per game, which, if you look at his career scores, is actually conservative on all fronts, he would be the best player in the NBA. eighth all-time leading scorer, one spot ahead of Shaquille O’Neal.

Thing is, 30,000 career points is perfectly legitimate for Lillard, who is likely to average well over 25 points for the foreseeable future. Currently, only seven guys in history have crossed that bar.

It’s amazing how great Lillard has become. We went through an evolution of the classic debate with him. For years, it wasn’t even considered an All-Star castle. Was he only on the All-NBA First Team once? He never won an MVP.

We tried to keep our conversations about Lillard out of the historical realm, preferring personal debates like whether he’s better than Kyrie Irving or Russell Westbrook, which shouldn’t even be discussed anymore. There was some resistance to Lillard being named one of the 75 Greatest Players of All Time, but it shouldn’t have been. It’s just that we’re still not entirely comfortable placing Lillard in a historical context.

We should be. It’s happening relatively quietly in Portland, but the simple truth is that Damian Lillard is becoming one of the greatest players and by far one of the greatest scorers this game has ever seen. The numbers don’t lie, and he’s far from finished accumulating them.


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