The term “Point Guard of the Future” is loosely thrown around when discussing young guards these days. However in Portland, they may very well have their man. Damian Lillard from Weber State was the number 6 pick in this years draft, and is wholeheartedly living up to his potential. In the NBA summer league held in Las Vegas, Lillard has progressively gained a sense of comfort running the Portland offense. Like any lottery pick, there was a lot of pressure for Lillard to perform. In game 1 the pressure got to him, and in the first half he struggled.
Fortunately for Portland, it only took one half of basketball for Lillard to reach an all important comfort level. He came out firing in the second half of game one, and in the entirety of the Vegas summer league his averages were astonishing. 26.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 4.0 RPG have propelled Lillard to the top of the MVP race in Las Vegas. If there was a statistic that kept track of Lillard’s comfort level, we can only imagine that it has skyrocketed on a game-to-game basis.
Speaking of skyrocketing, Lillard’s 40 inch vertical was on full display in the video above. As the NBA TV announcer said, he sees a lot of Derrick Rose in Damian Lillard. They have identical vertical leaps, and relatively similar builds. If Lillard pans out like a former MVP in Rose, Portland could have made the steal of the draft. Granted with Lillard’s talent, if he attended a big time school like Kentucky or UNC he could have been a top 4 or 5 pick. The small conference that he played in was one of very few things stopping him from going top 5.
The real wow factor with Lillard has nothing to do with his play. It isn’t his comfort level, nor is it his ability to splash 3′s from way downtown. His attitude towards basketball is very Brandon Roy-esque. Lillard already seems as though he’s an established veteran in this league. He walks with the swagger of an elite point guard, while doing his job as efficiently and intelligently as possible. As a Portland fan, I can not wait for the upcoming season. With a coaching search underway and the point guard position in very able hands, the cloudy future of the Trail Blazers is slowly dissipating into a bright sunrise.