At some point during the NBA award season, Damian Lillard is going to pick up the Rookie of the Year hardware. It is the biggest lock of the award season (even ahead of the inevitable LeBron MVP).
The question with Lillard — who is older than most of his draft class after a four-year college stint — is how good can he be in a few years? What is his ceiling?
“I think I can be a first team All-NBA, I think I can be an All-Star, I think I can be an MVP,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “That’s just my opinion. I don’t know when, but how I plan to work and how much better I want to be, I feel like anything is possible.”
That’s exactly what you want your stud rookie to say. That’s not to say his ego is getting too big.
“I’m not saying I deserve those things right now. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that I set high standards for myself,” he said. “I’m not going to come out and try to force myself to be an MVP next season, I’m going to be myself and hopefully all the hard work that I put in will get me to that point. I can get a lot better.”
Lillard had advantages this year that Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond did not. First, he stayed healthy. Second, he had the ball in his hands (and a coach that would play him big minutes, unlike Drummond). Finally, Lillard had veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum around. He was on a better team, got better matchups than those others.
Not to take anything away from Lillard’s 19 points and 6.5 assists per game. Or that his 169 three pointers this season beat Stephen Curry’s rookie record. Lillard has earned everything he has gotten this season.
But there could be a lot more hardware coming. And his head is in the right place to get there.