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Hollinger: Blazers G Damian Lillard Is One Of West's Surprises

John Hollinger of ESPN.com praises Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard for his early season play.

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

John Hollinger of ESPN.com names Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard one of his "surprises" in the Western Conference through the first week of the season.

I had low expectations for Portland's rookie point guard, and thus far he's vastly exceeded them. Even in a "bad" game in Dallas, he wasn't actually that bad -- he went 8-for-8 from the line and had just one turnover, he just couldn't get his shots to fall. But big picture, that's going to be the least of his problems -- he shot 40.9 percent on 3s and 88.7 percent from the line his senior year at Weber State.

The fact he's been able to create shots efficiently for both himself (a point every two minutes) and others (8.6 dimes per 40 minutes, and nearly three for every turnover) is a tremendously positive sign. Watching him in person last week, there's a lot of Chauncey Billups in his game. He's not as physical as Billups, but he's a smart, efficient, unflappable point guard who can shoot and knows how to draw fouls. At worst those assets will keep him in the league a long time. At best they'll propel him to stardom.

Back in October, Hollinger wrote that Lillard had a "low ceiling" when it comes to "star potential." Hollinger's Draft Rater was also low on Lillard.

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