|Damian Lillard has been a revelation for the Trail Blazers this season, and is getting attention from around the league|
When the Portland Trail Blazers sent veteran Gerald Wallace to the (then) New Jersey Nets last season at the trade deadline in exhange for their 1st-round pick in 2012, the Trail Blazers were just hoping that it would escape the Nets' top-three protection by landing in the fourth spot or lower.
A few months later, in the 2012 NBA Draft, Portland used the pick (which turned out to be sixth overall) to draft Damian Lillard, a high-scoring point guard out of small mid-major Weber State. As with any college player coming out of a non-power conference school, there was a measure of doubt when Portland drafted Lillard, as the general lack of strong competition he faced in college is always something to worry about when trying to predict NBA success.
However, with Lillard, those concerns have clearly gone unsubstantiated as the Blazers' point-man has been a true revelation, and is firmly in the drivers' seat for the Rookie of the Year award given out at the end of the season.
The rookie is averaging 19.1 points and 6.5 assists per contest in his debut campaign, putting to bed all the criticisms that put doubt in his ability to produce as well in the pros as he did in college. And that quick success has made a lot of people notice, even the player who was picked five slots ahead of him in June's draft, Anthony Davis.
The consensus top player in last year's draft class, Davis starred at Kentucky when the Wildcats won the National Championship last April. Now, talent recognizes talent as Davis has made it known — here at the end of a David Aldridge column in a Q&A — that he respects just how good Lillard is and how much he supports his fellow draft-mate in his future, and likely high-scoring, endeavors in the NBA.
From Aldridge's column, referring to Lillard: "He's playing well", Davis said. "He's playing extremely well. I don't know how many he had the other night, but they were big numbers. He's playing extremely well for Portland right now. I wish him all the successes."
Game recognizes game. And Anthony Davis' game recognizing Damian Lillard's game? Damn, that is a lot of game.