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NBAPA Names Lillard Portland Trail Blazers’ Teammate of the Year

Friday, August 05, 2016

 

In what may be the least-surprising end-of-year superlative across the entire NBA, Damian Lillard has been named the Portland Trail Blazers' teammate of the year.

The recognition is, of course, nice to see. But there's really only one way Rip City can analyze this news. 

"Duh."

Not to take anything away from the other guys on Portland's 2015-16 roster (they came together to exceed all expectations in their first year while avoiding controversy), but it was Lillard who has been the face of the franchise since LaMarcus Aldridge left. It was Lillard who scheduled last summer's pre-training camp vacation to San Diego to help build a bond. 

It was Lillard who rallied this group on a nightly basis to prove #they wrong.

In terms of on-court production, Lillard has found a way to lead without being selfish. Despite his scoring average (25.1), he was ninth in the league in assists per game (6.8), 10th in potential assists (13.0), 9th in assist points created (16.5) and 14th in total passes per game (60.1).

Those are strong numbers across the board, but what's most telling is that Lillard was also fourth in the NBA in terms of passes received (78.5). 

Give and you shall receive when your teammates respect your game.

Moving forward, the Blazers need this to remain a constant theme. In theory, Portland should be better next season; however, it's not going to sneak up on anybody like it did last year. 

Will there be another pre-training camp vacation? Only time will tell. But as long as the chemistry shows on the court, this group will be ready to compete behind its leader. 

*Statistics courtesy of Stats.NBA.com. 

 

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