Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard made a definite statement last year. He came out of the small school of Weber State to become Rookie of the Year, beating out the no. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans.
While leading all rookies in playing time at 38 minutes per game, he averaged 19 points, shot 42 percent from the field, 36 percent from behind the arc and 6.5 assists. The biggest knock was on him was that he turned the ball over three times per game. He also had seven double-doubles in assists and points last year.
This season, Lillard will have to prove doubters that his rookie performance was no fluke. People know he is a great scorer and he was deadly in pick-and-roll situations, but he has to be better at finding open teammates rather than look to score all the time. During his four days with Team USA, Lillard learned a lot about running plays more efficiently, playing off the ball and improving his defense. His priority is defense, and it is great to see a young player set out goals to make himself better.
Last season, Lillard was disappointed that his team did not make the playoffs. The Blazers made a few offseason moves to bolster their weak bench, including signing journeyman Mo Williams to be his backup. He aims to become an All-Star and Olympian someday, and he definitely has the skill set to become one. His rapid success has not overwhelmed him. His mature attitude is the edge that will help him be better than last year.