Pelton: Blazers G Damian Lillard Outplays Preseason Statistical Projection

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has vastly outplayed his preseason projection, according to Basketball Prospectus.

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus lists the 10 players who are outplaying their preseason projection by the largest amount so far this season. Three rookies top the list, including Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who checks in at No. 2 overall.

Tuesday marks four weeks into the 2012-13 season, meaning we're starting to transition out of that awkward period when almost any statistical anomaly screams "small sample size theater" and into one where performance becomes meaningful. To bridge the gap between the two times, I've developed an in-season version of SCHOENE that incorporates our preseason projections and performance to date.

... Some players have substantially improved or hurt their projections for the remainder of the season as compared to the baseline set over the summer. Over the next two days, I'll look at both groups on Basketball Prospectus. Today, we start with the overachievers who have most improved their projections thus far.

...

2. Damian Lillard, Portland (.420 projected, .522 updated, +.102)
In a sense, Lillard is the least surprising surprise on this list. Based on his lottery status and co-MVP honors at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, it was fairly clear entering the season that the adjustment for Lillard's low strength of schedule at Weber State did his projection a disservice. Not only has Lillard been far better than replacement level, he's actually played at an All-Star clip thus far, ranking 12th in the league in WARP. I'm a little skeptical Lillard can quite keep up that pace, but there is no question the Blazers have found their answer at point guard.

The Blazers will see the No. 1 player on the list on Monday night: Detroit Pistons rookie center Andre Drummond.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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