Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard Blazing His Own Trail Towards Elite Status

By Karim Akbar
David Richard – USA TODAY Sports

With his team sitting comfortably at 20-4, Damian Lillard is the star in the Pacific Northwest that you and I aren’t supposed to notice. He’s not in a huge media market, and he’s not in television commercials hawking insurance or cars. However, Lillard is pretty hard to miss these days.

His heroics this week have lifted the Portland Trail Blazers to clutch wins. His step-back jumper last night gave the Blazers a win which also resulted in a personal win for Lillard, who out-dueled Kyrie Irving. Lillard just missed a triple-double finishing with 36 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

With two huge signature wins to his credit in one week, Lillard has shown that he is the real deal. The eight made 3-pointers on Tuesday are a career-best while the cold-blooded iciness of his game in the fourth quarter is unrivaled at this point of the season. We know Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will be good for a couple of game-winners this season, but any list that features those names has to have Lillard in the discussion when it comes to clutch genes.

At this point, Lillard is an elite guard in a league that’s searching for more stars. He’s not only proven to be a must-start in every fantasy league, he’s a must-watch in all televised games. He’s a much more real extension of the ‘Linsanity’ craze.

Lillard owes some of the surge in his production to the arrival of Mo Williams, who has taken the load off at times. Free to roam without being burdened with running the offense, Lillard has thrived as a deadly combo guard. He is set to make $3 million this year, but once his rookie contract is up, you better believe that he will be worth elite money.

That’s a hefty price tag these days, but it’s worth every penny for a clutch franchise player like Lillard.

Karim Akbar is a Sacramento Kings writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kuhreem , “Like” his RantSports page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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