By: Jacob Williams
It’s 2016, and the NBA has experienced the departures of several key players such as Lamarcus Aldridge who is now five-time NBA All Star, Wesley Matthews who was leading the league in three point percentage before his season ending injury, Robin Lopez, and Aaron Afflalo, all of whom left during free agency. The trade of Nicolas Batum, who at least did bring back some value, left Portland projected to end up near the bottom of the standings. However, if the Weber State grad had anything to say about it then things will be different.
Growing up in Oakland, California, Dame is no stranger to proving the doubters wrong, facing adversity his whole life and overcoming the odds stacked up against him, he would transfer to a private school that produced legend Jason Kidd in his sophomore year, but then transferred again because his lack of playing time. He was only ranked 48th in his position (Point Guard) in the 2008 class by ESPN, and ranked only as a two star athlete by rivals. He then would sign a letter of intent to play at the mid-major college Weber State.
Freshman year, he would win the conference rookie of the year and first team All Big Sky an honor that was only won by Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey as a freshman. Sophomore year, he would raise his points per game by 8.4 which was right below 20 a game and certainly good enough to have people finally start to recognize him as an honorable mention All American. Things were finally starting to look up for him, right? Wrong. After 10 games into his junior season, he had to take a medical redshirt after breaking a bone in his foot. However, that didn’t slow him down a bit once he returned the following year. Averaging 24.5 points per game he was leading the NCAA in scoring most the year but ended up finishing second.
He then entered the 2012 NBA draft and was selected sixth by the Portland Trailblazers. Most scouts thought he would take awhile to become useful since he had to adjust from a mid-major school to the NBA. He proved them wrong breaking the record for the most twenty point games by a rookie in a row from his first game and then winning rookie of the year. After his rookie campaign, he went to two straight All Stars games, but this past year he missed it. Yes, Point Guard is easily the deepest position in the NBA, but stats don’t lie and his were great; 24.3 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.4 RPG. He’s also leading a team projected to finish near the bottom in the West with a seventh seed likely to play the Spurs if the playoffs started today. He even has his own shoe, want player with there own shoe doesn’t make the All Star game while in there prime and not injured? None. But Lillard wasn’t surprised by not making it, saying “I knew it would be a close decision.” He decided he would just stay in Portland, where he lives year around and even had his mom move in with him, and work day and night in the gym for the team’s main goal: the playoffs.