#6: Damian Lillard
After weighing all of their options and considering a number of prospects in recent weeks, the Portland Trail Blazers used the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to select Damian Lillard of Weber State. Lillard will be able to start at point guard from day one, filling a huge hole for Portland.
“First of all, I want to say I’m blessed to be in this position,” Lillard said. “I would be lying if I said I expected to be here last year. But I’m honored, man, just to be drafted that high coming from where I come from, the school that I come from. I’m just so thankful to be in this situation.”
This time last year, Lillard was projected as a mid-to-late second-round pick, but he climbed draft boards after an outstanding junior season. He averaged 24.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and four assists per game.
“It means a lot,” Lillard said. “Like I said, coming from where I come from, it just shows that I have won people over. I’ve always been the underdog, high school, college, being overlooked. To finally see that my body of work, how hard I worked to get in this position, has paid off and other people see it, it’s just a good feeling.”
Weber State’s offense forced him to dominate the ball, but he’s also an underrated facilitator who shouldn’t have any problem playing point guard in the NBA. Not only is he an excellent shooter, he’s an exceptional scorer who showed that he could put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the court. Lillard is an exceptional athlete, which is why he wowed teams at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
“When you look at Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, you see guys that score the ball really well but they get their teammates involved and they win games, most importantly,” Lillard said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why teams value me, because I can score the ball, I make the right plays and I’m a high‑character guy. I think I can eventually work my way into that category.”
Lillard is one of the most NBA-ready players in this class. He will turn 22 years old in July, and he earned his degree prior to leaving Weber State. He will be able to contribute right away, joining Portland’s young core of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum (assuming he’s re-signed).
Portland chose Lillard over prospects such as Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes. Lillard won over the Blazers’ front office after an excellent individual workout and several impressive interviews.