Blazers Want Lillard To Be Lillard

The education of Damian Lillard continued Monday night in a semi-homecoming and a full-realization that the biggest obstacle to overcome as a rookie may be himself.

In immediately being installed as the Trail Blazers starting point guard, the No. 6 pick in the draft has established an early trend of being too deferential to teammates the first three games. A rookie trying hard to fit in is nothing unusual, especially a rookie known as a scoring point and needing to prove he can be a distributor as well, but Lillard can be a dynamic offensive threat right away and needs to assert himself.

The Trail Blazers are attempting to get that very point across, re-enforcing to Lillard that he is one of the focal points, behind LaMarcus Aldridge and for now in the same range as Nicolas Batum because Batum has experience and some attack. Lillard can play nice all he wants, but this is someone who can be the No. 2 option in an offense with several veteran starters before the All-Star break of his first season.

If Lillard shows that he is able to get others involved, what is already a promising start on the Rookie of the Year campaign trail — with Anthony Davis of the Hornets — receives another boost. (Davis does a lot that will not show up on the stat sheet. Lillard is on a team with an established star, and both New Orleans and Portland are projecting to the lottery.) Monday night against the Kings, about 70 miles from his hometown of Oakland, was another Lillard slow start, with one basket in six tries in the first half before he took greater control after intermission and made six of eight attempts in Sacramento’s 117-100 victory.

Three exhibition games in, Lillard has taken 38 shots in 86 minutes, compared to 41 in in 82 for Batum and 40 in 78 minutes for Aldridge, so Lillard is not exactly being shy with the release. The Blazers are watching, though, to make sure he looks for his shot at the outset rather than holding back as a scorer to prove he is a distributor. They want Lillard to be Lillard.


  1. nbaspecter says:

    Lillard looks seriously promising, looked extremely confident in the preseason games and looks to be the second option scoring wise behind Aldridge. As a point guard, I believe he will come straight into the second group of point guard one down from elite, those like Lowry, Lawson, Conley and Rubio. He has the potential to reach the heights of those like Rondo, Rose and Paul, but still has to get some experience and improve his vision to become that dominant a player.

    • Armagan says:

      Rubio is better than those guys you mentioned in the same category. He will be one of the best point guards in the nba in years to come.

      • Christiaen says:

        In terms of pure court vision, I totally agree. He’s of the same making as Rondo, Nash, Kidd,…
        He sees the plays unfolding before they actually happen and has the unlikely ability to deliver the dime on the spot when needed.
        However, on a defensive level and in shooting, he will have to improve to get to the level of the nominees I mentionned before…
        Then again, Kidd and Rondo couldn’t shoot either from a distance in their first year in the NBA.

      • No he’s not. He has not yet played a full season, and has not proven himself defensively.