As arguably the most impressive rookie during the NBA’s 2012 Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada, point guard Damian Lillard has a potentially bright future in the league and might be the missing piece of the puzzle for the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.
The last few years have been brutal for the Blazers with countless injuries to star players like Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. With two of the team’s most promising players unable to stay healthy over the past few seasons, the Blazers’ front office decided to say goodbye to Roy using the amnesty clause, and by releasing Oden.
After clearing cap space with the departure of Roy, Oden and Jamal Crawford via free agency, the Blazers seem content in starting a rebuilding process around All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. As one of the best all-around forwards in the game, Aldridge is a perfect player to rebuild around and the emergence of Lillard may be enough to make this team a legitimate playoff contender next season.
In a bold display of confidence, Lillard made a statement that he might regret recently via Mitch Shaw of the Standard-Examiner:
“I think I can take Steve Nash,” a joking Lillard said. “I got Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Tony Parker after that, so I might have some rough nights with them. But Steve Nash, I think I got him.”
The Los Angeles Lakers will begin the 2012-13 NBA campaign against the Dallas Mavericks on October 30. This will be a highly anticipated matchup with both teams making so many intriguing changes to their roster during the off-season, but the newly acquired Steve Nash might be looking forward to the head-to-head showdown with Lillard a day later in Portland, Oregon on Halloween.
There’s no question that Nash isn’t a spring chicken anymore. Despite that being the case, the two-time NBA MVP can still hang with the best of the best in the NBA at his position with the ability to put up impressive numbers and keep opposing defenses on their heels.
Although Nash isn’t praised for his work on the defensive end of the floor, the 38 year-old will almost certainly make the 22-year-old Lillard put in work in the season-opener against the Lakers.
During the 2012 Summer League, Lillard finished as the leading scorer with 26.5 points per game and took home co-MVP honors with Josh Selby of the Memphis Grizzlies. Heading into the 2012-13 NBA season, Lillard has been labeled as one of the rookies to watch as he may have an instant impact with the Blazers.