The Portland Trail Blazers are flirting with .500 this season, but that could change very soon with the rise of their stellar rookie pint guard Damian Lillard. A former Weber State standout, Lillard is quietly putting together a fantastic NBA Rookie of the Year campaign while slowly helping to morph the Trail Blazers into Western Conference playoff contenders. In fact, he’s so good that he was selected to compete in the NBA Skills Challenge this year, which is a huge deal, contrary to popular belief.
Unlike the NBA Dunk Contest, which has become a waste of the fans’ time, the Skills Challenge brings high-profile stars each year, which makes it worth watching. Last year was a perfect example as the following six superstars all competed:
With names like that, the NBA could put on a bird-watching contest and folks would tune in (hint, hint, Dunk Contest organizers).
Lillard’s participation this year means he has arrived. All of the players above are respected stars and two of them have rings while a third has made one trip to the NBA Finals. Halfway through Lillard’s specular rookie season, he’s averaging 18.4 points and 6.5 assists per game. That’s stellar for a rookie point guard on a .500 team with no star power outside of LaMarcus Aldridge.
Regardless of whether or not Lillard wins the Skills Challenge, he’s proven that he was a good choice by Portland with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The best part for Trail Blazers fans is the best is yet to come from Lillard.