Damian Lillard is my favorite rookie in the NBA this year. No, I'm not a hypebeast who jumped on the bandwagon a couple weeks into the season. I'm a hypebeast who jumped on the bandwagon during the rookie workouts. Insiders kept talking about this guy from a small school called Weber State, so I checked him out and I was more than impressed. Lillard's blend of ball handling, quickness, and shooting touch made me a fan.What I was even more impressed by was his work ethic, which is on display in his web series "License to Lillard."
This man really puts in the work. If I attempted to do his workout, I'm almost certain I would vomit. Now before you knock my conditioning, let me say I run three miles a day. Lillard however; is just one of those rare people who is willing to go that extra mile. He wants to be great and you can see that in how he works.
My favorite thing about Damian Lillard you ask? He's 22, just like me. Damian Lillard is the part of a dying breed, four-year college players who get drafted. He spent four years at Weber State honing his game, coming back from injury and turing into one of the best players in the country.
Lillard's experience comes across in his game. When I see rookies or just young players in general, their inexperience is evident. For example, John Wall is a great player, but he does a lot of asinine shit. Andre Drummond, endless potential, but has no idea how to play basketball. When you see Lillard, averaging 19 and six, you see the maturity and understanding of the game. He plays with a calm and control that is often associated with veterans, not rookies.
It's refreshing to see a guy out there who knows the game and is clearly ready for the NBA. I'm not saying the one and done kids can't play, clearly some can, but not everyone is Anthony Davis or Kyrie Irving. There are a number of guys who had great potential coming out of high school, but have not been able to reach their full potential. Guys like Jerryd Bayless or Michael Beasley have been in the NBA for years now and still are unable to fulfill initial projections. Maybe the projections were off, but maybe those guys just needed to stay an extra year or two and really develop.
There is no clear answer as to whether or not guys need to stay in college or just jump to the big stage, but there is a certain maturity and awareness that comes with staying in school. Think about your own life. How are you different today from when you were 18? You're probably smarter, more aware and more sure of yourself. Those are all things that come with time and experience. Damian Lillard seems to have figured that out, hopefully some others will follow his lead.