It’s not very often that an NBA Rookie of the Year becomes the league’s MVP the next season, but Damian Lillard definitely has the chance to achieve that feat.
The Portland Trail Blazers‘ second-year player is obviously the man reason his team is 23-5 after 28 games. There are other reasons and players, for sure. Obviously, teammate LaMarcus Aldridge is also having a stunning season.
But Lillard gets a fair share of the credit for his continuing remarkable play. He’s at 21.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds a game. He was obviously a steal for the Blazers to get him as the No. 6 pick in the 2012 draft. No one expected Lillard to have the Rookie of the Year type of season he and the Trail Blazers enjoyed. He was outstanding, although Portland faltered in the final weeks of play
Entering Thursday’s game with the Los Angeles Clippers, he had been on a tear in his last 12 games, averaging 23.8 points and 5.9 assists. His shooting percentage is down slightly at 41.2 percent from what it was a year ago. His defensive performances are also improving, but there’s no denying the quality performances Lillard continues to give his team.
What has made him so much more dangerous this season and the Trail Blazers such a better team is the supporting cast Lillard enjoys. Mix him in with the likes of Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Nicholas Batum and Aldridge and the Blazers are indeed a title threat.
For those who thought his rookie season was a fluke and he was due for a sophomore slump, forget it. Lillard is the real deal, and so are the Trail Blazers. They obviously can’t have another late-season collapse like they sustained last season.