Coming into the NBA touted as the best point guard in the 2012 NBA Draft, Weber State scorer, Damian Lillard, has been labeled the Portland Trail Blazers’ guard of the future, essentially expected to revive the franchise after its cellar-dwelling 28-38 regular season record.
A quick synopsis of his college career, Lillard improved each season, peaking his senior year with averages of 24.5 points (second best in college basketball), five rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals per game. After being picked up sixth by the Blazers, “D-Lill” absolutely dominated Summer League Basketball, averaging 26.5 points, 5.3 assists and four rebounds, carrying away the co-MVP award alongside Memphis’ Josh Selby.
It’s almost ignorant to expect him to put up such absurd numbers when the NBA season starts — the talent level in the NBA is exponentially greater than that of the Summer League — but in playing alongside the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, Lillard will be toe-to-toe with Anthony Davis for the Rookie of the Year Award.
Exhibiting a deadly jumper and ridiculous athleticism in pre-draft workouts and Summer League Basketball, scoring won’t be a problem for Damian Lillard. He’s quicker than around a third of the starting point guards in the NBA, and low-post double teams on L.A. will make for quite a few open jumpers to be knocked down.
Turnovers will be a temporary issue. Lillard boasted a below average 3.8 turnovers per game against other rookies and second-year players. Elite point guards like Chris Paul and Deron Williams could have career nights against him, but once he catches up to the speed of the NBA game, D-Lill will be everything the Blazers wanted and more.
2012-2013 Projections: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 apg, 4.2 rpg, 2.9 topg, 1.6 stlpg, 43.5%fg, 88.7% ft
Damian Lillard will struggle, especially with the Blazers’ tough 10-game season opening, but once he settles down, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be the No. 2, if not No. 1 candidate in this year’s rookie race. Shots that should fall will rim out, and the nerves will kick in, but after a few weeks of getting adjusted, Danian Lillard will show why he is the first piece in getting Rip City back to the playoffs.