It’s not that anyone is expecting another Lillard to appear on the court. That’s obviously not going to happen. Lillard has unique skills all by himself.
But rookies like Will Barton, who late in the season showed some promise, need to keep an eye on Lillard and not only appreciate his talent but do everything they can to emulate it for their team’s sake.
Barton averaged four points and two rebounds a game as a guard and less than one assist. He saw how Lillard was not afraid to take the ball to the basket and that he maintained complete confidence every time he had his hands on the ball.
He also saw where Lillard was usually consistent and didn’t have many off nights. He was the perfect package.
Barton did some outstanding things for the Trail Blazers this season, but he needs to step things up a notch during the offseason and show the team that he can also put up some solid numbers.
The last three games of the regular season gave notice that if Barton gets more minutes, perhaps he’ll be another outstanding threat for the Blazers. In his very last game, an overtime tussle with the Golden State Warriors, Barton played 48 minutes, shot 7-of-19 from the floor and scored 15 points, while also having seven rebounds and four assists.
That’s double figures against playoff teams three straight games in a row. Barton could have a bright future with Portland. It depends on how much he wants it.