Lillard has developed into one of the best players in the NBA, and he has expressed his love for the city of Portland ever since they drafted him.
Damian Lillard quickly established himself as an elite player
When Lillard entered the league, he did not waste any time. He immediately became a starter for Portland during his first year. In 82 games, he averaged 19 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds while playing 38.6 minutes per game. He was named the Rookie of the Year, and Portland had a franchise player on their hands.
During his rookie season, he became the first rookie to lead the NBA in total minutes played (3,167) since Elvin Hayes during the 1968-69 season. Lillard was just getting started, and going into his second season, he picked up where he left off. He was named to the All-Star team in his second NBA season, and he led the Trail Blazers to a 54-28 record. Lillard averaged 20.7 points, 5.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. Portland took on the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. In Game 6, Lillard hit a buzzard-beater shot to give the Trail Blazers the win and advance to the next round. That was the first time Portland won a playoff series since 2000.
Throughout his career, Lillard has played in multiple All-Star games and has been named to numerous All-NBA teams. Year in and year out, he has helped Portland become a playoff-contending team in a tough Western Conference. Lillard has hit many game-winners during his career, and he’s the type of player who wants the ball in his hands while time is running out.
Damian Lillard continues to show why he’s one of the best point guards
If you look at Lillard’s numbers throughout his career, you’ll see how much of an impact he has on Portland’s team. Over time, he has learned to become a versatile point guard. Not only can he score from anywhere on the court, but he knows how to find the open teammate on offense, and he knows when to make the right decisions with the ball in his hands.
During the NBA restart, Lillard put on a show as Portland found themselves playing for a chance to get into the 2020 NBA Playoffs and their recent win against the Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in game, they will play the LA Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. Lillard was named the NBA bubble MVP, and he deserved it. He made it known that when the NBA returned, he wanted to play in the playoffs. He has that winning mentality and wants to do everything he can to put his team in the best position to win games.
Why did Portland decide to draft Damian Lillard?
Eight years ago, Portland wanted to choose the best player that would be the right fit for the franchise. They decided to choose a point guard from a mid-major school in Lillard in the 2012 NBA draft. Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey found something special in Lillard. In an article from nbcsports.com, Olshey talked about what he saw in Lillard’s game. “It was just the supreme confidence that you just knew that guys would want to go to battle with him.,” Olshey told NBC Sports Insider Tom Haberstroh.
“One of the things that’s unique about Portland is you gotta know people that are going to get this market, that are going to buy into this. And, I really felt like we had a chance with him, knowing how important player retention is for the small, non-destination markets.” The Trail Blazers have been able to surround Lillard with talented players, and now they have a chance to do something special this year in the playoffs.