So far we have heard alot of hooplah, and alot of doubt about Damian Lillard's trmendous summer league play. Some will point to Nate Robinson and Jerryd Bayless as reasons to "curb your enthusiasm", and another person might rebut with Blake Griffin and John Wall being our last 2 summer league MVP's. I think overall there's one thing everyone can agree with though, it's better to dominate summer league, then to struggle in summer league.
On to Lillard now, and to go over what I've seen, and what "I" feel that his first three games have shown.
First off, I think we got the best case scenario with his athleticism. Alot of people saw the numbers at the combine, but it was questioned how exactly that athleticism would look in an NBA environment, were they purely workout numbers, or would those numbers be apparent. And while the players in summer league aren't exactly NBA starters, Lillard looks like he's on a different level than everyone else, Athletically and skill wise.
Now that i got that out of the way, let's talk about his offensive scoring skillset. I've mentioned it a few times at this point, but I really feel that his offense is best compared to Eric Gordon.
Rookie Highlights - Summer League Game 1 (via pinwheelempire)
[4.19.12] Eric Gordon - 27 points vs Rockets (Complete Highlights) (via BlakeAtkins22)
Eric Gordon is clearly capable of getting to the rim, and it looks as if Damian could very well hold that same strength. Both are built strong (though Lillard is built identical to Rose) and both have some crafty moves around the rim. I also believe that both are good ballhandlers, Gordon might be slightly better in this regard from what I've seen, but not by much. Eric Gordon is also a very capable shooter, though i personally think that Damian will be better in this regard. There is also the similarity of the lack of a polished mid range game for both players, though i wonder if either will ever be extremely skilled in this area with their low shot releases. I don't think either player's shooting mechanics as currently constructed will ever lead to an efficient high post game, or effective leaner. But if Damian can develop an offensive game anywhere near Eric Gordon's (which I think he can) then that will be a HUGE success.
Another area that I have been surprised by, and ecstatic about, is Lillard's passing. He's had some turnovers and some struggles at times with his passes, but it's very apparent that he has the court awareness and vision to become a good passer, he'll likely never be Chris Paul, but he seems very capable of becoming a 6-8 assist guy in time. I'm just extremely impressed with his court awareness, he needs to work on the placement of his passes, but I don't think that's anywhere near the hurdle that gaining court vision is.
I would normally take some time here to talk about defense, but he's a rookie without almost any coaching playing the point guard position. It'll probably be his 2nd year before we see effective defensive ability out of him, if we ever do see it. Most rookies are terrible defenders, from what I've normally witnessed.
Overall I'm excited to see where Damian will be at by the time preseason rolls around, and I have a really good feeling about where he'll be, and the impact he'll make.
My Rookie Prediction:
16.2ppg / 3.7 rpg / 5.8 apg / 44-45 fg% / 38-39 3pt%
How does everyone else think he will do? Has your opinion of him and his abilities changed over the last week?