Basketball is obviously a team sport. But when it comes to the Portland Trail Blazers, the offseason has been all about one player, Damian Lillard.
The Trial Blazers had a disappointing 33-49 regular-season record and missed the NBA playoffs. The fans and organization haven’t forgotten that. The 2013-14 season will be all about making the playoffs.
But Damian Lillard and the memory of his rookie season has dominated the offseason for the team. They know how valuable he is both on and of the court and the tremendous reputation he’s brought to the program.
Lillard had just a spectacular rookie season with 19.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He was the runaway Rookie of the Year in the NBA. Whether or not if anyone in the draft that will be selected on June 27 can do what he accomplished, remains to be seen. Ben McLemore seems to stand out as the best possibility.
But Portland fans are trying to get through a long summer celebrating what Lillard did and by what he’ll continue to do for the franchise. He ended the regular season on a tremendous note against the Golden State Warriors with 7-of-13 shooting from the foor, 2-of-5 from the three-point area and 5-of-6 in free throws, for 21 points. He added three assists and one steal, plus one rebound.
Lillard should focus the offseason on getting better and realizing what he can do to to help the Blazers be a .500 team and make the playoffs. Portland has the No. 10 pick this year, but that player will be hard-pressed to duplicate Lillard’s achievements.