Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony has only played with point guard Damian Lillard for a little less than a full season, but he’s clearly made a great impression, as the 17-year veteran told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that “he’s the top guy I’ve played with.”
“Dame’s at the top for me. I’ve never played with someone who lifted his team on the court with his play and as a leader. He genuinely cares for his teammates. What he’s been able to do is amazing. He’s the top guy I’ve played with.”
Anthony has been part of rosters that have included perennial All-Stars, regular-season MVPs and/or current or future Hall of Famers such as Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Allen Iverson and Paul George.
Therefore, Anthony’s comments shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially after Lillard just finished the regular season averaging 30 points and eight assists en route to guiding the Blazers to their seventh straight postseason.
Anthony mentioned Iverson, a Hall of Famer who won the 2000-01 NBA MVP award, in particular when providing more context to his comments.
“AI was on the tail end [of his career] at that point [in Denver],” Anthony told Haynes. “I’ve played with some great players, but the way Dame elevates his game and others, he’s at the top.”
Anthony joined the Blazers in November as a free agent and has meshed well with this team, posting 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and developing a penchant for hitting clutch three-pointers.
The rest of Portland’s rotation has helped the team go 6-2 during the NBA’s restart and earn the eighth and final Western Conference playoff seed following a 126-122 play-in tournament win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. But Lillard is the team’s leader on and off the court, and he gave some insight into his leadership qualities to Haynes.
“If I’m showing frustration, it might spread to the team,” Lillard said.
“My job is to keep everyone motivated and encouraged so that we can play to the best of our abilities. There are a lot of things that you can’t control during a season, but we can control how hard we work.”
Portland has been on fire offensively of late and owns the top offensive rating (122.5) in the league since July 30, per NBA.com.
Lillard, Anthony and the Blazers will look to upset the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round beginning Monday at 9 p.m. ET.
Courtesy: Bleacher Report