#2: Damian Lillard
Draft placement: 6
College: Weber State University
NBA team: Portland Trail Blazers
Position: Point Guard
It seems odd now, but selecting Damian Lillard was a risk for the Trail Blazers. Yes, they needed a point guard, but small schools have a tendency to churn out players that aren’t ready for NBA level competition. Lillard swiftly put those concerns to rest with the fourth unanimous Rookie of the Year selection in league history. His 19.0 points and 6.5 assists per game dwarfed all competitors in the 2012-2013 rookie class.
Yet he has fallen from grace with some less than stellar shooting of late. Granted, an under-achieving Lillard’s dizzying plunge landed him just one spot back, it’s still not the transcendent play many had hoped for from a unanimous ROY selection. The expectations aren’t fair, but they are persistent. Lillard’s scoring average has actually risen to 19.9 points per game—it’s his lack of efficiency that is concerning.
He just seems… out of rhythm. He’s passive when he should be aggressive and aggressive when he needs to slow things down. I think the Trail Blazers’ recent success has masked his growing pains with the new roster, though it wouldn’t surprise me to see him recover in short order. He may not catch up to number one, but at least he’s recovering from a place that could already be considered elite. Perhaps I’m being too critical… or not critical enough.
2013-2014 Highlight game: 25 points, 8 assists vs. the Toronto Raptors